World Day for Audiovisual Heritage

The 27th of October is the UNESCO World Day for Audiovisual Hertiage, where archives, libraries, museums and other collecting institutions around the world celebrate the special qualities of the sound and moving image collections they hold.

“Through images and sound, audiovisual heritage provides unique insight to the past as the basis for looking to the future. […] Linking the past to the present, this heritage is part of our common history, and must be safeguarded and shared as a wellspring of identity and belonging, innovation and creativity.”

Irina Bokova
Director-General of UNESCO

To celebrate the event, our Archive has had the official hymn of the Royal College of Midwives completely digitised and fully restored from the original vinyl distributed in 1981.

Vita Donum Dei has been the motto of the Royal College of Midwives since its foundation in 1881. It translates as “Life is the gift of God”. The motto appears both on the badges historically given to members of the RCM and on the RCM’s coat of arms.

The hymn, named for the RCM motto, was written by Leeds midwife Dorothy M. Shields (pictured, third from the left) to celebrate the centenary of the Royal College of Midwives in 1981. Dorothy Shields was the Senior Nursing Officer at Leeds General Infirmary and a midwife in the York and Leeds districts.

In this recording, Vita Donum Dei and its follow up hymn, The Holy Infant Jesus, is sung by a 25 person choir from the Leeds Branch of the Royal College of Midwives in St Luke’s Chapel at Leeds General Infirmary. Dorothy Shields, an accomplished musician
and organist, also plays during the performance.

The vinyl record was expertly digitised and enhanced by the Essex-based company Audio Restored and is now available to download for non-commercial use. The original music and lyrics will also be made available via the RCM website in the near future.

For more information or to request permission to make commercial use
of this hymn, please contact: library[at]

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