Tag Archives: radio

On the radio: music and medals

This week I’m doing the early morning Daily Thought on BBC Radio Solent’s breakfast show, hosted by Julian Clegg. Each day from Tuesday to Friday at about 6.50am I get 90 seconds to catch the listeners’ attention. Here are the first two.

Music in heaven (Tuesday morning)

It began to dawn on me recently that I really am getting old. Our oldest grandchild had a party for his 13th birthday and my job was to be the bouncer – not so much keeping people out as making sure that his friends were safely inside the hall.

Everything was fine and the evening was a great success. The pizzas went down well, the volume level was constantly at 11 and the music … well, the music was just unknown.

I used to pride myself on knowing my music. I’m still pretty handy with the Solent Secret Sound and do OK in music rounds if we’re at a quiz night … but I only knew two tunes during the entire evening and sadly, one of those was Gangnam Style.

It made me wonder about the music in heaven.

After all, the parade of composers and instrumentalists we have lost just in the last couple of years would give us an event to rival the greatest festival and it would go on for days. Just imagine Beethoven and Bowie comparing notes before going on stage with John Lennon and Nat King Cole.

I’m pretty sure God loves good music and I’m confident too that God doesn’t make the distinction we do between sacred and secular.

The oldest recorded book of songs is the Psalms. In Psalm 96 it says:

Sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.

It’s a call to lift up your voice and sing – whatever is in your heart. That’s a good way to start the day. Just sing. Have a great day as part of the heavenly choir.


Missing out and why you shouldn’t (Wednesday morning)

For a number of years before becoming a church minister I worked in newspapers and spent some time as a sports writer in East London.

I used to talk to decathlon hero Daley Thompson every week at the point when he was winning Olympic and World titles. In the summer of 1978 I predicted in the paper that he would win gold at the Commonwealth Games in Canada and then went on holiday to Cornwall.

We stayed up into the early hours of the morning to watch Daley in action on a TV with dreadful reception – it was long before satellite TV – and saw through the fuzzy lines the prediction come true. The next day I read in the paper how Daley, as calm as ever, had received his gold medal, made a phone call and then spent the afternoon reading a book.

When I got back to work after the holiday my editor called me across and said: “You had a phone call while you were away. Daley Thompson rang from Canada with the exclusive story about his gold medal win but wouldn’t talk to anyone else.” I’d missed the biggest story of my career!

Now when Jesus was on the earth, he frequently reminded people that there was an opportunity they didn’t want to miss. The line he used was that the Kingdom of God was near at hand: the opportunity to live in a close relationship with God every day.

As a church leader, I’m glad that’s not an exclusive thing, but available to everyone. Knowing God’s presence in my life has helped me cope with difficulties and not get carried away when things go well.

Mind you, it doesn’t mean I remember everything – I need a diary for that!


Aberfan: a hymn in remembrance

disasterjpgThe next two weeks are full of difficult memories in our family. The name Aberfan has scarred the whole nation of Wales but for my wife’s family there is a deeply personal resonance as the 50th anniversary of the tragedy is marked on October 21.

My father-in-law, the Revd Irving Penberthy (pictured below), was the Methodist minister in Aberfan when the disaster happened. Many of the 50-strong Sunday School died and he spent days comforting families as they discovered what had happened.

His immediate job was to go with them into the makeshift morgue and be with parents as they found their children. Then, as the village discovered how to live again, he rallied the community to build a community centre, to sing together, to learn how to laugh once more, to rediscover faith.


He now lives in Devon and is the only surviving minister from that day. He has been interviewed by a number of media outlets including the BBC and we will be taking him to Aberfan to speak at one of the 50thanniversary memorial services.

Next Sunday, Radio 4’s Sunday Worship broadcast at 8.10am will feature a short interview with Dad. On the same day, All Things Considered on BBC Wales programme at 09.03 will also be about Aberfan.

The following week, October 23, BBC TV’s Songs of Praise will be about Aberfan and will feature Dad reflecting on his experiences 50 years ago.

He has also been interviewed by a reporter for Wales Online, covering the Western Mail and South Wales Echo, so it’s likely there will be some coverage in those papers too.

On October 21 the BBC are also broadcasting a live Daily Service at 9.45-1000 on Radio 4 long wave. The Revd Roy Jenkins will be presenting.

As part of the reflecting on  everything that happened, I have written the following hymn. It will be sung at the service where Dad will speak and is being sung at the start of the service on Radio 4 on October 16 and also will close the Songs of Praise broadcast on October 23. On that occasion it will be sung by Treorchy Male Choir.


The tune, as fits a Welsh reflection, is Dim ond Iesu (Here is love, vast as the ocean).

God who knows our darkest moments

meets us in our brokenness:

walks beside us as a whisper,

holds our pain in his caress.

God, who leads through shadowed valleys,

where death’s bleakness dims our sight,

speaks a peace beyond our knowing,

floods our anguish with his light.


Far beyond our grief’s horizon,

as Creation holds its breath:

Love Divine, revealed in Jesus,

tears apart the chains of death.

Servant son and humble healer,

by your cross and life laid down

you have carried all our suff’ring

and you wear the victor’s crown.


Lift us up, now, risen Saviour

to the place where mercy plays,

where our broken hopes and heartache

find their healing in your gaze.

This is love, that God has saved us!

This is love, that Christ has died!

We rejoice that love has conquered

and has drawn us to your side.

Copyright 2016 © Gareth Hill Publishing/Song Solutions CopyCare, 14 Horsted Square, Uckfield, TN22 1QG www.songsolutions.org

Christmas Day on The Hub

Tomorrow I make a rare appearance on The Hub with a special two-hour Christmas Day broadcast.

Join me, from 2pm, for a mix of carols and Christmas songs from some great artists.

The Grenaways in full flow.

We’ll have Keith & Kristyn Getty, Deacon Blue, Graham Kendrick, Hillsong, Steeleye Span and Cornish bands The Grenaways (above) and The Claze as well as much more.

Tune in at 106.1 if you’re in mid-Cornwall or online from 2pm.

Love is a good thing

OAP-w-2-630x630ne of the joys of having a radio show is the discipline of raiding your music collection for tracks to play.

Not such a joy is the challenge of persuading companies that you’re a genuine presenter and looking for the opportunity to air their artists’ music rather than just collect free albums for the sake of it.

Occasionally you find a company who instantly ‘get it’. In the last couple of weeks I had a very positive response from across the Pond. After playing tracks from Andrew Peterson’s 2010 album Resurrection Letters: Volume II I really wanted something a bit more up to date.

I like his storytelling style and his way of sharing his faith through engaging melodies. So a quick visit to the artist’s website and an email to Square Peg Alliance – the collective that Andrew works with – and within a few days I had a really positive response with access to his new album.

after-all-these-years-305x305After All These Years: A Collection is almost a greatest hits album but there are four new tracks and some of the favourites have been re-recorded. Nonetheless it’s a good introduction to him and worth the investment.

As a bonus, he’s due in the UK next month for a tour of the UK, appearing with another Square Peg Alliance artist, Eric Peters, a performing singer-songwriter since 1993, who has recorded nine albums.

Andrew Peterson isn’t just a singer and songwriter, although he’s been doing that for 20 years. In addition he’s written a series of fantasy novels in The Wingfeather Saga.

Anyway, check out the songs, I think you’ll like them. If you want to see him live, he and Eric Peters are at the following venues. All shows (except 1 March) will be selling tickets at the door but there is no online presale.

Saturday 21 February St James Church, St James Lane, Muswell Hill, London N10 3DB, 6:30pm. Tickets £10 at door

Sunday 22 February Illyria Pottery, 104 Walton Street, Oxford OX2 6EB, 8pm. Tickets £5.

Tuesday 24 February Monyhull Church, Saint Francis Drive, Birmingham B30 3PX, 7:30 PM. Tickets £10

Wednesday 25 February Illyria Pottery, 104 Walton Street, Oxford OX2 6EB, 8 PM. Tickets £5

Friday 27 February St. James’ Church, 4 Market Street, Ryde, Isle of Wight, PO33 2NG, 7:30 PM. Tickets £5

Saturday 28 February Upney Baptist Church, 9-13 Cavendish Gardens, Barking, Essex IG11 9DR, 7:30 PM. Tickets £7

Sunday 1 March Kenton Evangelical Church, Charlton Road, Harrow, Middlesex, UK HA3 9HP. Love offering to be taken

* You can hear my show Lifesongs on www.thehubradio.co.uk each week at 2pm on a Sunday. I’ll be playing two hours of contemporary Christian music with a bit of a twist as I slip in songs you wouldn’t expect.