Praise Be on One

8:00am Sunday, April 17 on TV One

For 47 thousand New Zealanders, April 10 this year is likely to be a day of considerable nostalgia. It’s the 25th birthday of TV ONE’s Sunday morning programme of hymn singing Praise Be and a two-part special of archival footage from each year is to be broadcast to celebrate the occasion.

In the last quarter century, an estimated 47 thousand people have sung on the programme and it’s expected there will be many who will look back with fascination at their youthful performances.

Praise Be was first produced in the TVNZ Dunedin studios and went to air on Sunday April 6, 1986, hosted by Graeme Thomson who continued to as host for 20 years until he retired and Chris Nichol took over.

Hymns from the programme have been retained in an extensive archive – more than four thousand hymns and songs of worship recorded in a total of 175 New Zealand churches and venues.

The largest congregation ever featured was 5,000 people at the Christchurch Rotary Massed Children’s Choir; the smallest vocal group was the four-man Musical Island Boys.

The 25th birthday celebration programmes have been split into two eras. On April 10 there will be footage from 1986 to 1998, and the following week on April 17 there will be material recorded from 1999 to 2010.

The series continues to travel around the country recording choral groups and ecumenical congregation singing for packaging into half hour programmes watched by an average weekly audience of 70 thousand people.

Producer Ron Pledger says the music featured on Praise Be has reflected the changes that have taken place over a quarter of a century. He says early content was very traditional and featured many splendid cathedral choirs from the UK – but over the years the music sung in New Zealand churches has diversified to include rock bands, contemporary styles with modern language and a greater influence from Maori and Pacific Island communities.

He says the extremely high standard of NZ choral singing being performed by school, college and youth choirs continues to astound the Praise Be team.

Praise Be has been fully funded by New Zealand on Air since 1989.

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