Liverpool Lighthouse Choir will release “Abide with Me” on 15 April to mark the 33rd Anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster as a song of healing to share with the nation.
The much-loved hymn had been sung by the choir’s predecessor, Love and Joy Gospel Choir, at the Hillsborough Memorial service whilst the names of those who lost their lives at the Hillsborough tragedy on 15 April 1989 were read out.
This was done every year for 20 years before the pandemic. Lighthouse Choir recorded this song as part of a collection of songs to pay tribute to those affected by the Hillsborough disaster including several of its members and to offer hope and healing to everyone in the nation who is affected by loss or tragedy at this time. The popular hymn also sets the scene for many sporting events, including every FA Cup final since 1927.
Lighthouse Choir was formed during lockdown. Unable to meet in person, the Choir rehearsed on Zoom for almost two years under the guidance of award-winning Choir Director Anu Omideyi, now Liverpool Lighthouse’s full-time Music Director.
As restrictions relaxed, choir members were finally able to meet in person for the first time in small groups for recording last spring.
The two soloists on “Abide With Me” have personal connections to the disaster. Gareth Hayes survived the disaster having been in pen 3 on 15 April 1989.
Danya Rushton, 16, whose mother lost her best friend Vicki Hicks alongside Vicki’s sister Sarah Hicks at the disaster said, “Abide With Me is a very meaningful song for many people. While my initial involvement with the choir was because of its connections with Hillsborough, I think the song is for anyone that has experienced loss and is looking for a sense of strength to get through it.
“I feel extremely honoured to open the song. I sang “Abide With Me” along with the choir at the Songs of Healing Concert in December last year which was attended by some of the Hillsborough families and it felt like the song was an integral part of the remembrance.”
The effects of the past two years on people’s well-being have been wide-ranging and unprecedented, and so it seemed completely natural for the Choir to extend the dedication of its music to include all those who have suffered or been affected by tragedy or any kind of loss over the past two years.
Proceeds will go towards the work of Liverpool Lighthouse charity to support youth and community engagement in music in the local area.
Anu Omideyi, Choir Director said, “Many of our choir members have been recently impacted by different kinds of loss or tragedy one way or another and some were directly affected by the Hillsborough disaster. So, we wanted to use this much-loved hymn as a song of healing for ourselves and as many people throughout the nation as we can.”
Over 300 people attended a free Christmas concert held at Liverpool Lighthouse on December 4 2021. The Liverpool Lighthouse Community Choir performed soothing songs and hymns that were sung at the Hillsborough Memorial Services over the last twenty years. The songs were chosen to remember loved ones and uplift as songs of healing. The choir released a single Wind Beneath My Wings following the concert in December.
Rebecca Ross-Williams, Creative Director of Liverpool Lighthouse said, “It’s really quite wonderful for the music from the Hillsborough Memorial Services to have a legacy. In response to grief and sadness they were chosen to remember loved ones to uplift and instill hope.
“They were songs of healing in effect! And now when so many people are facing such hardship and loss, they can be shared with the nation. Our hearts desire is that in releasing the single Abide with Me it reaches every corner of the land to touch the hearts of many.”