“We sang in parishes and parking lots, on beaches and in fields, we sang it in Kandahar and Keewatin and even in prison. And, it became our song, our prayer, together,” says Lynne Samways-Hiltz, spouse of Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, in her opening narration.
And now, the documentary of Anglicans singing Amazing Grace has won the Special Jury Award at the 43rd WorldFest Houston Independent International Film Festival. It is the highest award for creative excellence in the festival’s ethics/spirituality category.
Anglican Video accepted the award in absentia for its work in producing Amazing Together, a compilation of videos from the 2008 Amazing Grace project. The award was presented on April 17 at a gala dinner in Houston.
“This is such a fantastic honour for every single Anglican who participated in this fun and exciting project,” said Lisa Barry, senior producer of Anglican Video. “From the grandest renditions in the most impressive churches to the group of half a dozen gathered to sing in a humble country parish, the Amazing Grace project was about connecting and creativity and a real glimpse into our Anglican Church of Canada [and] at the people who are living their faith day to day.” Amazing Together is available on YouTube, where it has been viewed more than 3,000 times.
An initiative of the communications and information resources committee of General Synod, the project invited Anglicans across Canada to sing the hymn Amazing Grace, videotape it, and then send videos to the national church office in Toronto. [Each participant was asked to give at least a toonie ($2) toward the work of the Council of the North.] In all, there were over 500 submissions and the project raised over $100,000 for a suicide prevention program.
Anglican Video plans to send a Certificate of Award to all those who participated in the project. “It is an award for us all and I hope we all celebrate and rejoice in our shared spirit and creativity,” said Barry.
The documentary opens with a brief narration by Lynne Samways-Hiltz. “In this world that we all share, there’s so much that can divide us-language, beliefs, distance, politics,” she says. “Music is a language we all share. It is something every human being can understand.” What started out as a small idea eventually turned into a “beautiful collection of truly inspiring and artistic material.”
Barry said there will be a sequel to the Amazing Grace project, which will be formally announced at General Synod 2010 in June. “We will sing a Christmas hymn this time. We are looking for one that has been widely translated so that we can sing our hearts out together-whether our mother tongue be Inuktitut or French or Cree or English.” Ω