FEATS of memory are nothing new for David Bathurst, who has previously recited the New Testament from memory for charity, and the entire works of Gilbert and Sullivan, among other things.
This year, for his challenge, Mr Bathurst, a 57-year-old legal adviser, has turned for inspiration to the BBC Songs of Praise hymn book.
After learning all 401 hymns, he plans to sing them over three days, from 29 April to 1 May. He has a team of accompanying organists on standby, who will accompany him for 25 hymns at a time.
Mr Bathurst sings with three different groups near his home in Sussex, including the choir at Boxgrove Priory. “The Songs of Praise hymn book is a very nice one, and has everyone’s favourite hymns in. I am going to start at number one and finish at 401, singing them all in order. My favourite, “How shall I sing that Majesty”, to the tune Coe Fen, comes early on, at number nine.
“It isn’t a feat of endurance: I shall stop for tea and cake and to sleep, but I’m not aware of anyone doing this particular challenge before.”
After having a “dry run” of singing his way through the hymns, he is confident that his voice will hold out.
The hymnathon is taking place at St George’s, Eastergate, near Chichester. Mr Bathurst hopes to raise money for the Friends of Sussex Hospices, which provides funding for adult and children’s hospices.
Donations can be made through JustGiving (www.justgiving.com/fundraising/David-Bathurst).