On Sunday, 20 October 2013, the Sheffield Citadel Band (Bandmaster Keith Wileman) visited two corps in Wales simultaneously by dividing into two ensembles. Deputy Bandmaster Roland Spencer took half of the band to lead the meetings at Abertillery while Bandmaster Wileman took the other half to Risca Corps.
Sheffield Citadel’s corps sergeant-major, Glyn Evans, led the morning meeting at Risca with the theme “Made in the likeness of God”. Although the band was few in number, the Holy Spirit’s presence was evident throughout as they played to a thoroughly receptive congregation.
The meeting started with a “get to know the band time”. Each member of the band stood up and gave a fact about themselves. The highlight was Greg Waters, whose admission that he was “the best-looking man in the band” was met with much laughter from his fellow band members. Waters spent four years at Risca Corps when his parents were officers there.
Paul Sharman has built an exciting reputation through his compositions and his array of styles has made him one of the Salvation Army’s favorite composers in the recent era. The band played one of his most recognized pieces, Blessing and Honour, which references the words, “Your kingdom shall reign over all the earth’. These triumphant words are given a modern, zesty twist and turned into a jazzy arrangement. The band also played Here Is Love, a more reflective work that references the words, “Here is love vast as the ocean, loving kindness of the flood”.
After the meeting, the band went to witness in the open air at a local supermarket. They used the opportunity to play mostly light-hearted pieces to onlookers from a non-Salvationist background.
After an amazing dinner put on by the Risca Corps “dinner ladies”, the band had enough time to “recharge their batteries” before presenting an afternoon festival. Items such as Dance like David (Andrew Mackereth) and Erik Leidzén’s quick march Manhattan were played by the band as part of an afternoon of celebration.
Victoria Lewis, who gave the afternoon sermon, offered a message of hope to a world that seems to have forgotten religion and become filled with untruth and sinful hatred. Her message was plain and simple, “If you read the Bible, everything in it is true. Anything besides that message is false. If we live our lives by the will of God then we will live eternally.”
As soon as the members of the Sheffield Citadel Band arrived they were made to feel very welcome and were embraced into the unique and intimate fellowship that is Abertillery Corps. They were pleased to catch up with Captains David and Beverly Wormsley and their children.
Morning worship set the tone for the day. Expertly led by Alistair Mann, there was a lovely mix of moods throughout the morning. The band engaged in some great banter with the congregation, but there were also some very reverent and thoughtful moments. Mann shared a message from Isaiah 43:1–7 that “we’re worth it” to God and that there is nothing we can do to change that. The contributions of the band and the Abertillery Songsters fit in perfectly with the theme of the meeting.
This was followed by an afternoon meeting with a mix of light-hearted, relaxed music and practical Bible teaching by Roger Coates, along with powerful, honest testimonies from members of the band. The music presented was almost an entirely new repertoire for the band and playing in a smaller ensemble was a different, but enjoyable, experience for some.
A thoroughly enjoyable and Spirit-filled day ended when the band was sent home with a powerful and hearty rendition of Bread of Heaven, that could only have been delivered from the heart of the Welsh valleys, ringing in our ears. The members of the band were also “forced” to stay and eat cake in celebration of the 70th birthday of one of the Abertillery bandsmen.
Sheffield Citadel Band web site, original reports by Oliver Ridley and Ryan Wileman