| 23 Sep 2021
BBC Radio celebrates Easter with raft of religious programming

MUMBAI: Central to this year’s Easter offering on TV will be actor David Suchet’s extra special journey, retracing the footsteps taken by St Peter; a dramatisation of the entire Gospel of John; and a one-off drama retelling of the biblical story of Noah and The Ark. These highlights will join the annual live Easter services from around the country, together with Pope Francis’ Easter SundayMessage and Blessing - Urbi et Orbi.

Meanwhile on BBC radio, special Easter editions of key religious programmes will provide conversation, music, reflection, readings, hymns and special guests. At The Foot of The Cross returns to BBC Radio 2 and Clare Balding welcomes the Most Rev John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, for a special edition of Good Morning Sunday. BBC Radio 3 will play host to a series of Live in Concerts and Radio 4’s Good Friday Meditation will reflect on the timeless story of Good Friday, focusing on how there’s no greater love than laying your life down for others.

Religion and Head of Religion and Ethics BBC Head of Commissioning Aaqil Ahmed says: “Easter is not just one of the most important moments in the Christian calendar, it is also for the BBC the best way of illustrating its commitment to programming in this area. From prime-time drama on BBC One, the complete dramatized telling of the Gospel of John on BBC Two to Easter hymns, anthems and conversation across BBC radio, this is an exciting mix of programming that shows the BBC at its best, mixing genres, working across channels and delivering for our audiences a diverse range of quality programming.”

Radio 2

At The Foot of The Cross - Friday 3 April, 8-10 pm

Diane Louise Jordan introduces an evening of music and reflections for Good Friday from Central Hall, Westminster. The warm, rich voice of actor, Patrick Robinson (Casualty, The Bill) brings the events of the first Good Friday to life with readings and poems telling the story of Jesus’ last hours and also reflecting on the sacrifice made by those who died on the battlefields of World War I. The programme features music from the BBC Concert Orchestra, conducted by James Burton, who is joined by a chorus of singers from across London, BBC Radio 2 Young Chorister of the Year, Helena Paish, soul singer Louise Marshall and winner of The Voice 2014, Jermain Jackman. Their forces combine to provide an inspiring and poignant programme of music including well known hymns and spirituals, choral classics and pieces from popular British composers, culminating in a full performance of John Rutter’s Requiem.

The Sunday Hour - Sunday 5 April, 6-7 am

Diane Louise Jordan wishes listeners a Happy Easter on The Sunday Hour with favourite Easter hymns, Gospel music and sacred sounds. She will be reflecting on the Easter Story in words and prayers as well as delivering some special Easter dedications and requests.

Good Morning Sunday - Sunday 5 April, 7-9 am

In a special edition for Easter Sunday morning, Clare Balding welcomes the Most Rev John Sentamu, Archbishop of York to be her faith guest for conversation and his reflection for the morning.

Easter Glory - Sunday 5 April, 8-9 pm

The stunning voices of the Soul Sanctuary Gospel Choir are joined by top soloists, including Tracey Campbell, to tell the Easter story in their Gospel Oratorio “The Resurrection”. In a celebration of life and music they bring this age-old story into the 21st Century through favourite Gospel songs and spirituals recorded at BBC Maida Vale studios.

Radio 3

Choral Evensong - Sunday 5 April, 3.00-4.00 pm

A special Easter Festal Evensong on Easter Sunday will come live from Ely Cathedral. The Introit is Jesus Christ is Risen (Trepte) and responses from Leighton. The Office Hymm will be The Lamb's high banquet we await (Ad Cenam Agni) and Anthem, Death be not proud (Francis Grier) first broadcast.

Radio 3 Live in Concert

A series of Live in Concerts will come from King’s College Chapel, Cambridge throughout Easter. On Good Friday (3 April), the Live In concert will feature James MacMillan’s St Luke Passion, performed by Britten Sinfonia Voices, choristers of King's College Choir, Cardinal Vaughan School and Trinity School, Croydon. The concert will be conducted by James MacMillan.

The Easter Sunday (5 April) Live In Concert will feature works by Reger, Bach, Georg Bohm, Messiaen, Tournemire, Howells and Leighton, with David Goode on the organ.

On Tuesday 7 April, a concert recorded on Saturday 4 April Bach St John Passion will be conducted by King’s College’s Stephen Cleobury and will be performed by King’s College Choir, Ben Johnson (Evangelist); Christopher Purves (Christus); Mary Bevan (soprano); Robin Blaze (countertenor); Ed Lyon (tenor); Ashley Riches (bass).

Private Passions

Anglican Priest, Lucy Winkett will be the guest on the Easter Sunday edition of Private Passions.

Radio 4

Prayer for the Day

The special guests delivering the Prayer for the Day (5.43 am) over Easter are:

The Venerable Sheila Watson, Archdeacon of Canterbury (Saturday 28 and Monday 30 March –Friday 3 April), and Rev Dr Ian Bradley, Principal of St Mary's College, University of St Andrews (Saturday 4 April and Monday 6-10 April).

Thought for the Day - Friday 3 April, 7.48 am-7.51 am

The Rt Rev Graham James, Bishop of Norwich will introduce his Thought for the Day on GoodFriday.

Act of Worship - Friday 3 April, 9.45 am-10.00 am

A special act of worship for Good Friday will come from from the Rev Dr Martyn Atkins, General Secretary of the Methodist Church.

Good Friday Meditation - Friday 3 April, 3.00-3.30 pm

Dr Nathalie MacDermott tells the timeless story of Good Friday, relating her experience working with victims of Ebola to that of the plague village of Eyam 350 years ago.

We are told there is no greater love than laying down your life for others, and that is the subject of today’s Good Friday Meditation. When the plague tore through the community of Eyam in Derbyshire 350 years ago, the villagers’ first instinct was to flee. But their brave decision to stay – on the advice of the local clergy to keep the plague within the village – probably saved thousands of lives throughout the north of England.

Just last year, self-imposed isolation was also the choice of British doctor Dr Nathalie MacDermott. She was unsure whether she was incubating the deadly Ebola virus already contracted by two close medical colleagues in Liberia. Emerging from a lonely confinement, at least safe in the knowledge that she did not have the virus – this time – she returned to Liberia for a third tour of duty, struggling to bring care and comfort to communities that have lost thousands to this modern-day plague.

Guided by the present Rector of Eyam, the Revd Mike Gilbert, she hears heart-rending stories of this historic sacrifice at locations around the village, but also how genetic research on descendants of Eyam’s plague survivors is bringing hope to the fight against present day versions of the disease as well as HIV. With music and readings illustrating the timeless story of Good Friday, Nathalie shares her own Christian perspective of why she, too, is still prepared to risk her life for strangers.

Easter Sunrise Service - Sunday 5 April, 6.35-6.57am

The gothic Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral provides the setting for Radio 4’s Easter Sunrise Service. The Very Revd Mark Bonney, Dean of Ely, responds to the story of the Resurrection of Jesus through the art and architecture of the Cathedral. In this celebration of New Life, he reflects on how this age-old story and this ancient building can speak to the world today. With Easter hymns and anthems from the trebles of Ely Cathedral Choir directed by Paul Trepte.

Sunday - Sunday 5 April, 7.10-7.50 am

For this special edition for Easter Sunday, Sunday will be marking the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. Presenter, Caroline Wyatt, will explore the story of how, in 1915, hundreds of thousands of Armenians were forced to leave their homes in the Ottoman Empire. Many were killed or died from starvation or disease during the deportation.

While the events remain a highly sensitive issue, the Armenian Apostolic Church plan to mark the centenary by canonising one and a half million victims of what they say was the genocide of the Armenian people.

On Easter Day in 1870 the Holy Trinity Armenian Church of Manchester opened its doors for the first time. Sunday visits this community to reflect on the anniversary and its legacy. Plus other religious news and current affairs.

Easter Day Sunday Worship - Sunday 5 April, 8-9 am

The first female Bishop in the Church of England, the Rt Rev Libby Lane, Bishop of Stockport, gives her first Easter sermon, live from Chester Cathedral on Radio 4. This Easter Eucharist has a wealth of seasonal music and hymns with the renowned Chester Cathedral Choir, including Jesus Christ is Risen Today and Thine Be The Glory. The celebrant is the Dean, the Very Rev Professor Gordon McPhate.