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Why Ulster duo's hymns are really out of this world

An Ulster Log

By Eddie McIlwaine

The hymns of gospel songwriters Keith Getty and his wife Kristyn are just as popular way up beyond the clouds in the stratosphere as they are down here on Mother Earth, I can reveal today.

Astronaut Barry Wilmore, just back from the International Space Station, says that, although his favourite was always the classic How Great Thou Art, he and the rest of the crew joined in Getty compositions like In Christ Alone out there in space.

Veteran of space travel Captain Wilmore is pictured here at the Kennedy Space Centre on the right with Keith, originally from Lisburn and Kristyn, originally from Glengormley, soon after his return to base after nearly 18 months as a senior member of the Soyuz TMA-14M's long duration International Space Station team.

"On the station I listened almost solely to Getty hymns and How Great Thou Art," says the good captain.

The Getty composition In Christ Alone, which Keith wrote with Stuart Townend, has been named second best-loved hymn of all time behind how How Great Thou Art.

So the Getty couple can claim to be almost as well-known in space as they are here on Earth. Which reminds me that as a young man after Keith had expressed an interest in outer space I suggested, jokingly, that his compositions would one day be heard away out there beyond the stars.

When I mentioned In Christ Alone and the Getty family here last week and explained that Keith and Kristyn, who have three young daughters Grace, Alexandra and Charlotte, would be in concert at the Waterfront Hall next September, there was a rush to buy tickets even though the gig is many months away.

I've known Keith for years, since he was a teenager, and have to admit that I once advised him to take up preaching rather than hymn-writing. Many who listen to his songs of faith are glad that he ignored me.

He and Kristyn, based in Nashville, draw huge congregations to their concerts - including the one at the Kennedy Space Centre where they met their spaceman, Carnegie Hall, and another at the United Nations.

When they play the Waterfront next September, perhaps Captain Wilmore will come with them.

Liza very Bizet as the fiery Carmen

International mezzo soprano Liza Kadelnik will be in town at the Waterfront starring in an Ellen Kent production of Bizet's Carmen.

And it's going to be a special evening on Tuesday, April 19, promises my old friend Ellen who always manages to add a touch of something different and original to her opera shows.

Ellen explains: "I try to do opera that people actually want to see - that people can identify with and cry and feel moved by. I aim to make opera understandable and enjoyable." Ellen is drawing inspiration for the sets from Goya and the stage will have flowers everywhere and fountains flowing with water.

It's the story of the seduction of soldier Jose by the fiery gypsy Carmen.

The day that I hung the phone up on David Bowie

David Bowie's death at the age of 69 devastated his many fans.

He and I chatted occasionally after a hilarious confrontation on the telephone in 1995.

I was unaware that promoter Jim Aiken had arranged for the singer to phone me at home to chat about a visit to Belfast. So when the call came and David announced his name, I thought it was a joke and told him to go away and give my head peace (or did I use a worse expression?). Bowie laid his number on me and hung up.

And when he answered my return call he told me in turn to give his head peace (or did he also use a worse expression?) and promptly hung up again. Eventually we got it together down the line and had a laugh. Good job Bowie, who released a new album only last week on his birthday, had a sense of humour.

His life was described as a work of art. I was never a fan of his music, but it was enough that he was a gentleman.

Korky, the cat that was the cream

Never mind War And Peace, isn't it great that Desperate Dan, Korky the Cat and Keyhole Kate are still starring in the Dandy - the comic, first published way back in 1937 - whose 2016 annual is now in the shops? 

The final print edition of the weekly comic was published on December 4, 2012, the Dandy's 75th anniversary, and it was relaunched online, but is now only appearing as a print annual.

Comic No 294 is special and worth money because on June 9, 1945, Korky was relegated from the front page after a marathon run as the star and replaced by Keyhole Kate. Thomson quickly realised their mistake after protests from scores of readers and had Korky back on the front the very next week.

Me, a grumpy old man? Never

According to a new survey men grumble for a lot of reasons, which include getting socks as a present at Christmas, watching the football team they support get beaten yet again, being treated as a taxi driver by the family, and being forced to watch Coronation Street.

Well, I'll tell you this, none of the above apply to me - I don't have a favourite team, socks are better than nothing at all, nobody in my house asks me to drive them anywhere (am I really such a bad driver?), and I prefer the Street to Strictly.

And the word is out that I'm still an awful grouse.

The poll of 1,000 fathers by a firm called Merlin Annual Pass decided that one way to improve the male mood is a good night's sleep in a warm, comfortable bed.

Mind you, Merlin doesn't say if he has to be in bed alone or side by side with the lady of his dreams.

An emotional farewell to Maureen

Widow Maureen Molyneaux, who has died at 91, had two last requests that were fulfilled at her funeral in St Catherine's Church, Aldergrove. She asked that Canon Sam McComb, who has been associated for years with the parish in his retirement, should take part in the service.

He paid homage to the much-respected former member of St Catherine's choir in his address. The service was conducted by the Rev William Orr.

Maureen's other request was that a recording of Daniel O'Donnell singing the inspirational Be Not Afraid would be played. Nephews Colin and Derek McCartney and Nigel and Denis Hamill carried her coffin as the emotive words and melody had mourners in tears.

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