Sunderland Minster to remember city’s First World War sacrifices

The Durham Hymns will be performed at Sunderland Minster. Pic: Colin Davison.
The Durham Hymns will be performed at Sunderland Minster. Pic: Colin Davison.
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Wearside’s First World War sacrifices will be remembered in a special service this month.

Durham Miners’ Association Brass Band, community ensemble The Centenary Choir and BBC National Choir of the Year Voices of Hope will perform The Durham Hymns at Sunderland Minister on Saturday, March 18.

The premiere performance of The Durham Hymns at Durham Cathedral. Pic: Colin Davison.

The premiere performance of The Durham Hymns at Durham Cathedral. Pic: Colin Davison.

Conceived by The Northern Regional Brass Trust as a World War One commemorative piece last year, The Durham Hymns was commissioned from Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, with new original music from Orlando Gough and Jessica Curry.

“The poems that Carol Ann has created for this project are both fiercely moving tributes and so relevant to what we face today in terms of conflict,” said Jessica.

“I love the fact that both brass and choir are both deeply rooted in the community and that feels like such a good fit for the Hymns.”

All the hymns are based on the lives of real people from what was then County Durham and remind the audience not only of those who died and the wartime experiences of the survivors, but also of the courage and resilience of those left behind and the hidden impact of the war on subsequent generations.

I love the fact that both brass and choir are both deeply rooted in the community and that feels like such a good fit for the Hymns

Jessica Curry

Two of the most moving hymns were inspired by Sunderland men serving in the Durham Light Infantry.

The Soldier’s Hymn is drawn from the memoir of Sergeant George Thompson, who was a horse transport driver.

Apart from the First World War, he spent his whole life in the shadow of Sunderland Minster. He lived in Crow Street, now covered by The Bridges Shopping Centre, and he married a girl from the next street, Carter Street.

Bear Me Up was inspired by the valour of Durham’s miners as recorded by Sergeant Charles Herbert Moss, who within days of war being declared had joined the ‘Durham Pals’.

The Durham Hymns was first performed at Durham cathedral. Pic: Colin Davison.

The Durham Hymns was first performed at Durham cathedral. Pic: Colin Davison.

Tickets for The Durham Hymns are £12 (£8 concessions) and are available from the Minister in person or by calling 0191 565 4066.