Welsh Youth Choir slated to perform at 16th St. Baptist Church on Easter Sunday—learn more here

Welsh Youth Choir
The famous Wales Window at 16th Street Baptist Church. (Jon Eastwood / Bham Now)

Want a beautiful Easter Sunday experience? Join the 16th Street Baptist Church as they host Côr yr Urdd, a Welsh Youth Choir, on Easter Sunday during their multi-state tour. Keep reading to see how this transatlantic partnership is making history and learn more about the history of the iconic Wales Window.

A concert that builds partnership

Birmingham, 16th Street Baptist Church
16th Street Baptist Church on July 15 2020. (Pat Byington / Bham Now)

Côr yr Urdd is shaking up your traditional Easter service with Welsh music and culture from across the pond. They’ll perform in conjunction with the UAB Gospel Choir in a beautiful melody of languages and cultures. Following the challenges of Covid, this is the first time that they’ll be in person in over two years.

The two music coordinators, Siân Lewis and Patrick Evans met for the first time in 2019 and have stayed in touch ever since. They originally had planned to have both groups meet in 2020 when the pandemic swept away their existing plans.

As to not let their spirits down, the two formed a virtual choir, releasing ‘Every Praise’ by Hezekiah Walker—sung in Welsh. Next year, the hope is that the UAB Gospel Choir will visit this Welsh Youth Choir in Wales in 2023.

If you’re interested in attending, the service will be held on Easter Sunday, April 17 at 10:45 AM and Monday, April 18 at UAB’s Alys Stephens Center, Jemison Concert Hall at 7 PM.

A Welshman and Birmingham resident, Jon Eastwood, is overjoyed about there being a Welsh choir coming downtown.

“Well, I’m delighted there’s a Welsh choir coming to Birmingham. There’s a famous quote that goes like this, ‘To be born in Wales, not with a silver spoon in your mouth, but with music in your blood and with poetry in your soul’. Music and choral music in Wales is the same as gospel music in the South. It’s part of your being. It’s part of your culture.”

-Jon Eastwood, Welshman + former Bham Now employee

Birmingham’s Welsh connection

Wales Window
Photo of the stained glass window donated to the 16th Street Baptist church by the people of Wales. (Jon Eastwood / Bham Now)

Birmingham’s Welsh connection dates back prior to 2022. After the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing that killed 4 girls back in 1963, a Welsh villager, John Petts, heard about the news from his coastal town of Llansteffan. He offered to craft and install a replacement window for the church—thus the iconic Wales Window was born.

Petts shared his idea with David Cole, editor of The Western Mail, and a front page ad was placed asking for donations for the window. Instead of sourcing wealthy donors, he capped each donation at half of a crown (15 cents in current US dollars) so that the window was owned collectively by the people of Wales.

The Welsh raised money for the window in such a short time—with children bringing their pocket money to contribute. The stained glass depicts a Black Christ and is known as one of the most iconic pieces of art from Birmingham’s Civil Rights Era. The rainbow above depicts diversity while the verse below is Matthew 25:40.

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Olivia Moses
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