‘It’s a great day to be Catholic’

Band at Cofton Park

Band at Cofton Park

So says Mike Stanley of CJM Music who alongside Jo Boyce, their six piece band and a 40-strong choir opened the Cardinal Newman Beatification celebrations at Cofton Park, Birmingham on Sunday.

Using some of Newman’s prayers and other devotional writings along with a mixture of contemporary styled music including two new musical settings of Newman’s poetry, the service guided listeners through four key areas of Newman’s thought; Scripture, Eucharist, Mary and Mission before finishing with a rousing chorus of ‘Firmly I believe and truly’ to a rhythmic new tune.

Boyce & Stanley led the tens of thousands of pilgrims, who had been arriving since midnight, in song while the Rt Revd David Urquhart, Anglican Bishop of Birmingham, Rt. Revd Christopher Cocksworth, Anglican Bishop of Coventry and Rt Revd David McGough, auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham each added reflections and prayers. Bernadette Kearney ex Midlands Today TV Presenter introduced each of Newmans areas of thought.

The choir, made up of youngsters drawn from four Catholic Secondary Schools in the Archdiocese of Birmingham; Bishop Ullathorne, Cardinal Wiseman and Cardinal Newman schools in Coventry and the local Catholic secondary school St Thomas Aquinas, spent the night enjoying the hospitality of the Longbridge Methodist Community, who gave over their building for the group to practice and to sleep overnight on the Saturday before walking into Cofton Park at 4am on Sunday morning.

"It was amazing", said one youngster, "it was a once in a lifetime opportunity".

The event was broadcast live on Radio 4 as part of the BBC’s Sunday Worship Series which some 1.75 million people listened into. It can be heard on the BBC’s iPlayer ‘listen again’ service.

Boyce & Stanley’s ‘Lead Kindly Light’ EP CD featuring three tracks used in the Beatification celebrations is available from their website:  www.cjmmusic.com

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