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Church service... from the Gospel of Van

By Alf McCreary

Published 29/08/2015

Cyprus Avenue in east Belfast will play host to Van’s gigs
Cyprus Avenue in east Belfast will play host to Van’s gigs

The 70th birthday of Sir Van Morrison is being celebrated in a special service at a Belfast Presbyterian Church tomorrow.

The Reverend Steve Stockman will lead the congregation of Fitzroy Presbyterian Church in a celebration of Morrison's music, which will be performed by several people during the service.

It is titled 'The Lord N Fitzroy.. and Van Morrison', and performers will include Scott Jamison, Chris Wilson, Caroline Orr and Dave Thompson.

The Reverend Stockman, who hosted his own music show, Rhythm and Soul, on BBC Radio Ulster for 10 years, is also considering writing a book on Morrison.

He said: "This might not be the usual approach to a church worship service, but for Fitzroy it might not be as big a surprise. Van gives all that is necessary to build a Christian worship service around his music. He has recorded hymns, and many of his songs have spiritual insights.

"His upbringing on Hyndford Street in east Belfast meant that he was conditioned in the shadow of all kinds of churches, Mission Halls, Gospel Halls and Kingdom Halls. It was unlikely that an artist like Morrison who has paid so much attention to his childhood in his near 50 years' career, would not find these influencing his art."

Rev Stockman also pointed out that at one stage of his life Van Morrison became an enthusiast of comparative religion.

"He read books and wrote songs about all kinds of religious ideas including Scientology, Roscrucianism, and the Tibetan influence of Alice Bailey. Into this wide-ranging mix, Morrison's Christian legacy enters and exits in orthodox and unorthodox ways. Lots of his songs have a deep spirituality, as a result."

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