Queen congratulates Songs of Praise on 60th anniversary

Almost 3,000 episodes of Songs of Praise have aired since 1961.(Photo: BBC)

The Queen has sent a message of congratulations to BBC One's Songs of Praise as it celebrates its 60th anniversary.

The pre-recorded message was broadcast during Sunday's show, which was filmed in Westminster Abbey. 

The Queen praised the show for bringing together churches and showing Christianity "as a living faith". 

"For 60 years Songs Of Praise has drawn together congregations and BBC viewers throughout the United Kingdom in collective worship," she said.

"During that time, the programme has shown Christianity as a living faith, not only through hymns and worship songs, but also by featuring the many people who have put their faith at the centre of their lives.

"I congratulate Songs Of Praise and all those involved in the programme on its 60th anniversary."

Songs of Praise first aired in 1961 and is the world's longest-running religious TV programme. 

The first episode took place in the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Cardiff. Since then it has been filmed in churches and cathedrals across the UK, and remains a Sunday evening fixture.

Current host Aled Jones was joined by past presenters for the celebratory episode.  

Patrick Holland, director factual, arts and classical music at the BBC, said the show had become even more important during the pandemic, when churches were closed.

"For 60 years, Songs of Praise has held a very special place on BBC One," he said. 

"Never has this been more important than the past year - when as churches had to close their doors, Songs Of Praise continued to bring together people of faith across the UK every Sunday."

He added: "It is a great honour to pay tribute to the world's longest-running religious television programme - long may it continue."