A Celebration for Ascension Day

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Broadcast today on Radio Four at 9pm Swiss time, or click here to listen on-line.

Every year Radio 4 listeners fill the pews of St Martin-in-the-Fields for Radio 4’s broadcast celebration of Ascension Day. But this year is different. As congregations gather remotely, this is a different kind of service constructed from contributions from people across the country recording from their own homes.
It’s a celebration but also a time to reflect on the present and find hope for the future.

Novelist and priest, the Revd Marie-Elsa Bragg offers a series of reflective meditations. She explores the fundamental place of physical touch in human experience and considers the nature of relationships built at a distance. She reflects on how people approach death, grief and despair, and provides a poetic vision of the future which acknowledges the triumphant power of love.

The service, led by the Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields, the Revd Dr Sam Wells, is a tapestry of words and music. It culminates in a new recording of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus featuring the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and voices of Radio 4 listeners recorded from their own homes in lock-down around the country. This virtual choir experience allows singers to upload their own recordings singing with the BBC Philharmonic, to create a national choir created especially for this broadcast.

At a time when musicians cannot assemble, the BBC Philharmonic, the Daily Service Singers, St Martin’s Voices and solo artists are also brought together, recording remotely, to create unique versions of hymns and anthems for Ascension Day.

Producer: Katharine Longworth

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