*** DEBUG END ***

Radio review: Do Not Resuscitate, Heart and Soul, and Choral Evensong

28 May 2021


Do Not Resuscitate (Radio 4, Tuesday of last week) provided examples of flawed expectations about DNR orders

Do Not Resuscitate (Radio 4, Tuesday of last week) provided examples of flawed expectations about DNR orders

AS SOMEONE who is currently binge-watching the box set of ER, your reviewer is more than familiar with what happens in a hospital when a patient is brought into A&E. “One, two, three” — lift on to the bed — then pound that sternum until the dot on the monitor starts pinging again. Then you can all relax.

The presenter of Do Not Resuscitate (Radio 4, Tuesday of last week), Yasmeen Khan, has written for television and is fully prepared to admit that hospital dramas create expectations among us civilians which are rarely matched by reality. The proportion of admissions requiring cardio-pulmonary resuscitation who make it out of hospital alive is one in five. The procedure is brutal, often resulting in broken ribs and lasting pain. Those in the know can ask for a “Do not resuscitate” (DNR) order to be included in their medical notes.

And therein lies the second flawed expectation. The granting of a DNR order does not lie in the power of patient or family, but of the clinician. Issues of consent and transparency continue to be the most contentious aspect of DNR orders. The programme provided some representative examples, including that of Sonia, who discovered only by chance that a DNR order had been included in the medical file of her husband, Alan, when he returned home for what they assumed was a period of post-treatment convalescence.

It fell to Catherine Baldock, of the Resuscitation Council, to provide the take-home message: we must re-establish a relationship with death based on familiarity and realism. We must have conversations about death without subcontracting our responsibilities to the medics and the hospitals. Do it now, and certainly do not leave it until the doctor rears into view.

The 80th birthday of Bob Dylan provided a fine excuse for Heart and Soul (Friday, World Service) to review the so-called “gospel phase” of Dylan’s career: that period in the late 1970s and early ’80s which many Dylan devotees would prefer to forget, when their idol embraced Evangelical Christianity.

Having been tight-lipped with journalists and fans about his spiritual life, Dylan in this period opened up to such an extent that he was as content to preach to his audience as perform his songs. We heard from an Australian journalist, Karen Hughes, who landed the first interview after his “conversion”; and from a backing singer, Regina McCrary, who was hired in Nashville for her gospel-singing credentials. There was no doubt in their minds that Dylan was sincere in his discipleship; and, moreover, they deny that this was just “a phase”.

Brief mention must be made of the heroic efforts of the London Festival of Contemporary Church Music to bring us Choral Evensong on Wednesday of last week (Radio 3). When singing has endured such cruel and unjustified privations, it is great to hear a professional choir continuing to work at its customary breakneck speed to pull together such an impressive package of newly commissioned repertoire.

Read Malcolm Guite on Bob Dylan here.

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Church Times Bookshop

Save money on books reviewed or featured in the Church Times. To get your reader discount:

> Click on the “Church Times Bookshop” link at the end of the review.

> Call 0845 017 6965 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm).

The reader discount is valid for two months after the review publication date. E&OE

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Awards Ceremony: 6 September 2024

Read more details about the awards


Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available


Inspiration: The Influences That Have Shaped My Life

September - November 2024

St Martin in the Fields Autumn Lecture Series 2024

tickets available



Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website


Visit our Events page for upcoming and past events 

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)