Leading churchman returns after 50 years for Redhill's Carols at the Belfry

One of the country’s leading churchmen, who served his curacy at St Mary’s Church in Reigate more than 50 years ago, is to return to the borough next Sunday (December 8).

For the Rt Rev Michael Baughen, now retired and living in Godalming, is to take part in a special Carols at the Belfry event in Redhill, which will bring the curtain down on celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of Reigate and Redhill being granted municiapl borough status.

The Rt Rev Baughen was Bishop of Chester from 1982 to 1996 - the last nine years of which he served as a member of the House of Lords. Prior to that he led one of London’s largest congregations at All Souls, Langham Place, next door to Broadcasting House, for 12 years.

The Rt Rev Baughen came to Reigate in 1959 as St Mary’s curate, when Canon GA Baker was the vicar. During his time in the parish he laid the foundations for what was to become a significant contribution to popular worship.

Five years after leaving St Mary’s in 1961, he published a brand new hymnbook, ‘Youth Praise,’ which began a revolution in church music, with modern lyrics and catchy tunes, including several he had written himself.

During the next 40 years he oversaw the production of four more modern hymnbooks, one of which, ‘Hymns for Today’s Church,’ hit the headlines in 1982 when it included an alternative version of the National Anthem.

One of the Rt Rev Baughen's best-known tunes will be used to start the event at Redhill’s Belfry Shopping Centre, to accompany the well-known modern setting of the Magnificat, ‘Tell out my soul.’ As usual, the singing will be led by the Churches Together Orchestra.

Also taking part in the programme will be BBC TV newsreader Nicholas Owen, who will read the Nativity story.

The Mayor of Reigate and Banstead, Dr Lynne Hack, will join others from civic life, community leaders and congregations from churches in both Reigate and Redhill, as well as members of the public, in looking back at this year’s 150th anniversary celebrations. Now in its 20th year, Carols at the Belfry will take place at the Belfry Shopping Centre, Redhill, next Sunday (December 8) at 7pm. Event organiser John Capon said: “Everyone is welcome to join us for what we hope will be a fitting conclusion to the celebrations.

“But even though we’re planning to have extra chairs this year, I would advise people to come early if they want a seat.”

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