On 21 October 2016, the Solent Fellowship Band (Bandmaster Dan Redhead) was joined by the Hayling Island U3A Handbell Team for the fourth in a series of “Bells and Brass” concerts at St. Mary’s Church on Hayling Island.
The evening had a frenetic start, as the Southampton contingent of the band were delayed by a Friday evening incident on the M27, arriving at the church with just minutes to spare before the scheduled start time. However, this was somewhat overshadowed by the church members’ fears that, in consequence of the support posts for their 2,000-year-old yew tree being declared rotten, a massive branch might at any time fall onto the church porch. With areas of the churchyard fenced off, access to the church was limited to a small priest’s door. This led to an intermingling of band and audience on arrival and departure – a happy and good-natured mingling.
The band quickly settled in to the familiar surroundings and superb acoustic. The evening began and ended in a traditional fashion with marches, Collaroy (Barrie Gott) written to commemorate the opening of the Salvation Army conference and recreational center at Collaroy Beach north of Sydney, Australia, and South Coast, written by the Fellowship Band’s principal cornet, Martyn Thomas, in tribute to all Salvationist musicians on the South Coast.
As always at St. Mary’s, the congregation was in fine voice as they sang “Joyful, joyful, we adore thee” and “God’s love is as high as the heavens”. The latter is sung to the tune associated with “My bonnie lies over the ocean”, and Bandmaster Redhead successfully introduced the audience to off-beat triple-time clapping!
Several instrumental soloists were featured. Steve Jones played the trombone solo Take Up Thy Cross (William Broughton), John Hanchett played the euphonium solo In Christ Alone, and Martyn Thomas presented the cornet solo In the Love of Jesus (William Hammond, arr. Ray Steadman-Allen). Although not strictly a solo, Tom Jones excelled in his part in Dance Like David.
Foot-tapping and lighter moments came with Dance Like David (Andrew Mackereth), Jubilation (James Curnow), and Praise Party (Steven Ponsford), all balanced by Faithful God (Chris Bowater, arr. Dean Jones) and The Prayer (Carole Bayer-Sager/David Foster, arr. Frank Bernaerts).
In a time of reflection, the band sang When Jesus Looked O’er Galilee (Catherine Baird/Ernest Fewster), as always generating favorable feedback. They then played Ray Bowes’ gentle arrangement of My Heart’s Desire.
The much-restructured Hayling Island U3A Handbell Team played two sets. They opened with Ode to Joy from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, followed by Yes, Jesus Loves Me, an arrangement of traditional nursery rhymes, and a French folk song. The second set included The Sussex Carol, transcribed by Ralph Vaughan Williams from Harriet Verall early in the 20th century. This was bracketed by the very early Spring Carol (the melody now used for “Good King Wenceslas”) and the mid-19th century American song Jingle Bells.
The Reverend Pennie Paine expressed the thanks of the church for the music and song. After the sparkling performance of South Coast, and considerable applause from the appreciative audience, the band and congregation mingled together as they filed through the priest’s door, out into the night and away from the yew tree.
Solent Fellowship Band web site