Radio 4 Sunday Worship from Blackburn Cathedral Sunday 14

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This script cannot exactly reflect the transmission, as it was prepared before the service was broadcast. It may include editorial notes prepared by the producer, and minor spelling and other errors that were corrected before the radio broadcast.

It may contain gaps to be filled in at the time so that prayers may reflect the needs of the world, and changes may also be made at the last minute for timing reasons, or to reflect current events.

Radio 4

Sunday Worship

from Blackburn Cathedral

Sunday 14th June 2009
Marking Anne Frank’s 80th birthday

featuring excerpts from Annelies by James Whitbourn
Leader: The Revd Canon Chris Chivers, Canon Chancellor


The Very Revd Christopher Armstrong, Dean of Blackburn

Thea Gersten, Holocaust diarist

Gillian Walnes, Director of the Anne Frank Trust

Anjum Anwar, Dialogue Development Officer, Blackburn Cathedral
Nicola Howard, soprano

Renaissance Singers

Richard Tanner, conductor

Producer Simon Vivian

BA: Abigail Thomas
Transmission: Sunday, 14th June 2009 (0810-0900)


BBC Radio 4. Last Friday was the 80th anniversary of Anne Frank’s birth. Today’s Sunday Worship from Blackburn Cathedral is a meditation on her life and legacy, using extracts from her diary set to music by James Whitbourn. The leader is Canon Chris Chivers.


Introit bars 1-17 with diminuendo ending for orchestra [James will rewrite this intro]


Good morning and welcome to this meditation commemorating the eightieth birthday of a person for ever trapped in our imaginations as a teenaged girl. The name Anne Frank is emblazoned across the twentieth century, her diary – read by almost as many people as the Bible – a witness to all that is both best and most bestial in human nature. It’s strange to think that Anne was from the same generation as Her Majesty The Queen, and that she had a newspaper photo of the then Princess Elizabeth on the wall of the attic bedroom in Amsterdam in which she and her family, and a group of their friends, hid from the Nazis for over two years. Terrifying to reflect that save for her father, Otto, betrayal led their lives to be extinguished amidst the horrors of Auschwitz and Belsen. [MUSIC ENDS] Anne’s story is part of an appalling period in human history, a period in which the lives of millions were senselessly destroyed. A Jewish girl persecuted for no other reason than who she was: but one whose capacity to hope resonates down the corridors of time, as it transcends any of the barriers by which people seek to limit the way they define themselves and others. Our opening prayer is led by the Dean of Blackburn, Christopher Armstrong.


Lord of all nations and faiths, as we worship in freedom this morning, hear our prayer for all who live imprisoned by fear or anxiety, that the words and music we offer may inspire in them a new hope for liberation, the hope offered in the prayer that you taught us:

~ ALL:

Our Father, who art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy Name.

Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done,

On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses,

As we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation,

But deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,

and the power, and the glory,

for ever and ever.


~ CHRIS CHIVERS (0’30”):

The composer James Whitbourn was the first to be allowed to set parts of Anne Frank’s diary as an oratorio, Annelies. With his librettist Melanie Challenger, he’s woven extracts into a concert-length narrative, the contours of which we follow in this meditation.

In this way, Anne’s words are transported on wings of song. Music can take us to the heart of human suffering and the heights of human hopefulness.
We hear first Anne’s description of the family’s plans to go into hiding.

~ MUSIC (4’20”):

Movement 3 complete [The plan to go into hiding]

~ CHRIS CHIVERS (0’40”):

“So much has happened; the world has turned upside down”. Words from Anne Frank’s diary. It’s hard to imagine what it must be like to abandon your home and possessions and be propelled towards an unknown and totally fear-filled future. But someone who’s experienced this from the inside is Thea Hurst, who as a young Jewish girl, Thea Gersten from Leipzig, had to forsake her home first for Poland and then for the United Kingdom, leaving her father to his eventual death in Treblinka. Like Anne Frank, Thea kept a diary – hers from 1939 to 1947. Published in German, it will soon be available in English. Thea told me something of her feelings in 1939 and the genesis of the diary.

~ THEA GERSTEN Pre-recorded interview



Dur: 1’30”


Movement Five from start to bar 95

One of the most remarkable features of Anne Frank’s diary is the way fear seems always to be met and overcome by hope. During the day she hears the constant chimes of the Westertoren Clock – emphasising the monotony of life in the attic, yet in the dead of night the same sound brings such reassurance.


Hope and fear. It’s a combination that’s a strong feature of Jewish responses from within the horrors of Holocaust, as the prayer we’ll now hear reminds us. Scratched by a Jewish prisoner on the walls of a cell in Cologne during the Second World War, it introduces Psalm 46, an expression of hope for a world transformed by the goodness of God.


(music ends after this chime so that it’s clear for Psalm reading)

I believe in the sun, even when I cannot see it.

I believe in love, even when I cannot feel it

I believe in God, even when he is silent.


God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble;

2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be moved, and though the mountains tremble in the heart of the sea;

3 Though the waters rage and swell, and though the mountains quake at the towering seas.

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place of the dwelling of the Most High.

5 God is in the midst of her; therefore shall she not be removed; God shall help her at the break of day.

6 The nations are in uproar and the kingdoms are shaken,
but God utters his voice and the earth shall melt away.

7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.

8 Come and behold the works of the Lord, what destruction he has wrought upon the earth.

9 He makes wars to cease in all the world; he shatters the bow and snaps the spear and burns the chariots in the fire.

10 'Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth.'

11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.

~ MUSIC (3’30”):

Movement Five from bar 227 to end

~ CHRIS CHIVERS (0’25”):

“People not just Jews”. This telling assertion points to Anne Frank’s unshakeable confidence in the humanity which others sought to deny in her, as also to her amazing trust in God. Gillian Walnes, director of the Anne Frank Trust, tells us now where she feels this quality in Anne came from, and her thoughts on Anne’s living legacy.

~ GILLIAN WALNES (1’00): Pre recorded interview




~ MUSIC (2’20”):

Movement 5 bar 102-170 [The Blue sky]

~ CHRIS CHIVERS (1’30”):

As long as Anne was connected to nature, to the sunshine and the cloudless sky glimpsed through the attic window of the secret annex, she could be hopeful. But the flip side of life in such cramped circumstances – people physically and emotionally tumbling over each other, the daily fear of discovery: this side of life in the attic must have been very trying. Yet it was, as Anne recognised, luxury compared to the hell that people were being consigned to in the outside world, rounded up, herded into cattle trucks and dispatched with such order and precision to almost certain death. It’s impossible to understand what Hannah Arendt, in her famous account of Adolf Eichmann’s trial, described as the ‘banality of evil’. When Christians and Jews came to reflect together on the Holocaust – and especially on the part that so-called Christian civilisation had played in its creation – the strands were recognised to be so complex that only through shared silence could they be addressed.

Perhaps, in this sense, the sacred space of the music that we hear now, offers us the opportunity to express our own feelings prayerfully and reflectively, as in the traditional plea for divine mercy, Kyrie eleison, we hear the cries of perpetrators and victims alike, surely re-echoed by those in our world now in places of desperate need and suffering pleading for us to do something.

~ MUSIC (4’35”):

Movement 8 complete [Sinfonia (Kyrie)]

~ CHRIS CHIVERS (0’40”):

Invitations to put your trust in God can sound so platitudinous until the moment we experience the need to trust for ourselves, and find it answered not so much through some spectacular act of divine intervention but through the compassion and care we offer to our neighbours. Anjum Anwar is Blackburn Cathedral’s dialogue development officer - the only Muslim to be on the staff of a cathedral in order to build relationships across communities. Anjum was the coordinator of the Anne Frank exhibition when it came to Blackburn last year. She was instrumental in engaging Muslims in this community with Anne Frank’s story.

~ ANJUM ANWAR (1’00”): Pre-recorded interview



~ MUSIC (2’30”):

Movement 12 bars 72-124 [The Hope and the Awakening]
~ CHRIS CHIVERS (1’35”):

Ich habe dir fur al das Gute und Liebe und Schone. I thank you God for all that is good, and lovely and beautiful. I’ll always remember standing with a group of young choristers aged 8 to 13 in the middle of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam trying to do just that. They’d been rehearsing for a concert in Amsterdam. During a break, we visited the Anne Frank House. A noisy group of choirboys, letting off steam, soon became a very quiet, wide-eyed and reflective group of the most thoughtful children you could imagine.

Up the stairs we went, and we found ourselves in Anne Frank’s bedroom. The boys looked at the newspaper cuttings and pictures on the wall, and gazed out of the window. And then suddenly it happened: we were all helplessly in tears. We didn’t need to say why – and we didn’t say why – we knew why.
I met one of those boys a while back, and one of the first things he said to me was “D’you remember when we went to the Anne Frank House?” And of course I did. “For me,” he said, “it was one of the most important moments in my life. Anne Frank wanted to be the best writer she could be. She wanted the best from life, the best for other people. She got the worst in return. She was hated for who she was. But she beat them all and became the best ever… the most successful diarist the world’s ever known. I decided I’d do the same and be the best I could be.” Today that boy is one of the world’s finest musicians .


Behold, I have set before you this day life and prosperity, death and adversity: choose life.

Let us pray.

For all who live in the shadow of conflict and the fear that it engenders.

For all who suffer persecution on the basis of their faith, ethnicity, sexuality, gender or political conviction.
For all who are powerless casualties of the decisions made by those who exercise power, especially children and young people imprisoned by poverty, neglect or abuse.


As our meditation draws to a close let’s make these words of Anne Frank’s our own prayer for integrity and purity.

I see the world being slowly turned into a wilderness. I hear the approaching thunder that one day will destroy us too. And yet, when I look at the sky, I feel everything will change for the better. Whenever you feel lonely or sad, try going to the loft on a beautiful day and looking at the sky. As long as you can look fearlessly you’ll know you’re pure within.


Anne’s meditation, from James Whitbourn’s oratorio ‘Annelies’, ending this morning’s Sunday Worship which came from Blackburn Cathedral. The music was performed by members of the Northern Chamber Orchestra conducted by Richard Tanner with soprano soloist Nicola Howard and Blackburn’s Renaissance Singers. The leader was Canon Chris Chivers and the producer Simon Vivian.

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