Remembrance Weekend, 9 – 10 November 2013, was a memorable one at Regent Hall Corps. In addition to the long-anticipated visit of the Sunderland Millfield Songsters (Songster Leader Peter Laing), the weekend also featured the annual march to the National Cenotaph in Whitehall. It was also the last weekend before the Regent Hall Band (Bandmaster Steve Hanover) traveled to São Paulo for the Brazilian Congress.
There were many highlights of the Sunderland Millfield Songsters contributions:
- Eric Ball’s 1940 session song, Hold Fast, written during World War II and so appropriate for Remembrance Weekend
- New compositions from Adrian Maycock
- Deputy Songster Leader Andrew Mair’s piano solos; he also conducted his new arrangement of Someone Cares
- The unique and thought-provoking style of Colonel Eddie Hobgood, leader for the weekend
- Kevin Wilkinson’s Eb bass solo
- Vocal solos by Ian Murphy and Oliver Cook
- Inspiring testimonies
- The way that members of the songsters interacted with the audience, introducing themselves and the songs
- The hauntingly beautiful flügelhorn solo, Salm O Dewi Sant (Karl Jenkins), played by Hannah Robson
Enthusiastic congregational singing enhanced a tremendous weekend, and, as Peter Laing said at the close of the Sunday meeting, “The brigade you see here is the same brigade that tirelessly performs its duties every week at Sunderland Millfield.” A spiritually uplifting and thrilling weekend concluded with the united singing of The Hallelujah Chorus by the Sunderland Millfield and Regent Hall songster brigades.
March of Remembrance
Every year, the Regent Hall Corps represents the Salvation Army at the National Cenotaph in Whitehall. It is always a wonderful occasion, enhanced this year by the participation of the Sunderland Millfield Songsters.
Taking part in this march is a deep personal experience. There is a strange mixture of pride and humility, with the applause and cheers of thousands of onlookers demonstrating the public’s ongoing love for the Salvation Army, excitement and emotion as those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country are remembered. The oldest bandsman was undertaking his 43rd march at the age of 75; meanwhile, five-year-old Kaelan Hooper, son of bandsmen Paul and Lisa Cooper, was making his debut.
It is difficult to describe the tremendous sight and sound of the march through London’s broad thoroughfares under police escort (roads are closed and traffic stopped for the occasion) and headed by the Union and various Salvation Army flags. The band played grand old marches including Montreal Citadel, In the Firing Line, The Red Shield and, of course, Under Two Flags, timed so that the National Anthem was sounding as the procession neared the Cenotaph.
But, of course, this event is not all about pageantry. The band played “Abide with Me”, the tune allegedly whistled by Edith Cavell before her execution, as the procession neared the memorial of this brave nurse. A brief service and wreath-laying ceremony is held there. As the procession nears the Cenotaph, the band played “For All the Saints”. The service at the Cenotaph included Deputy Bandmaster Paul Sharman playing “The Last Post” and “Reveille” and two minutes of silence.
Although this was a three-mile march, interspersed with a 20-minute service, no one complained of fatigue. The march back to the hall was as eye-catching and well-received as the one on the way out. Everyone involved in this event recognized that they were enormously privileged.
Regent Hall Band web site