A warm and balmy welcome greeted the South London Fellowship Band (Musical Director Darrell Scholes) as they visited the Sunshine Coast and Eastbourne Corps on the weekend of 15 – 16 July 2017. This was a return visit for the band, the last journey to Eastbourne being four years earlier, almost to the day. The weekend included a Saturday night festival, morning and afternoon worship at Eastbourne Corps, and an open-air concert at the seaside.
Saturday 15 July 2017
The Saturday evening festival kicked off with a bright rendition of the festival march Celebration (Leslie Condon). Immediately, the mood was changed with the song setting Ask the Saviour (Michael Davis), which led nicely into the opening prayer by Craig Finch. This time of meditation ended with the suite Splendour of Youth (Leslie Condon), the second movement, based on the chorus “Lord, How I Love You”, allowing the band to reveal its reflective nature.
The audience had an opportunity to stretch their legs and lungs with the congregational song “I’ll Stand for Christ”, accompanied by the band using a contemporary arrangement of the familiar tune. This was followed by a volley of solo items. Alan Moyse (cornet) played Fairest Isle (Henry Purcell, arr. Ray Steadman-Allen), followed by Adrian Horwood (euphonium) playing Brillante (Peter Graham). Finally, Craig Finch (flügelhorn) contributed Concerto de Aranjuez, music which was featured in the film Brassed Off.
At this point the band got a well-deserved break from playing, as they sang God’s Love to Me Is Wonderful (Sidney Cox/Dick Krommenhoek), accompanied by a brass ensemble. Next came the major work of the evening, Music of a Legacy (Steven Ponsford). This demanding composition, featuring quotes from many significant pieces the Salvation Army’s rich brass band heritage, was well-handled by the band. The trombone section then delighted the audience with Stephen Bulla’s trombone feature The Cleansing Power.
In another change of mood, the band presented the very popular and beautifully arranged Prelude on Lavenham (Geoffrey Nobes), leading into a Scripture reading and devotional thought by Bev Hudson, who encouraged all to use their special and unique gifts to enhance God’s kingdom.
A fantastic start to the weekend and an enjoyable evening was brought to a close with the march Light-Bringer (Martin Cordner), played with as much energy and vigor as the opening march.
Sunday 16 July 2017
The day began with God, as John Moye led a pre-holiness meeting and reflected on world events, the ministry of the corps at Eastbourne, and the band’s mission for the weekend. Before the morning meeting began, the band played Soli Deo Gloria (William Himes), an amalgamation of Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” with the prayer chorus “Jesus, Name Above All Names”. This was followed by Guardian of My Soul (Darren Shaw), which combines the composer’s own song “I Worship You” with the well-known hymn “O Jesus, I Have Promised”, both of which contain the phrase “guardian of my soul” in their lyrics.
The mood now set, Adrian Horwood commenced his leadership of the holiness meeting, conducting the band in an unaccompanied male voice presentation of Beautiful Christ (Ashby/Ray Steadman-Allen), after which Alan Moyse offered prayer. After the congregational song “I Know Thee Who Thou Art”, Craig Finch had the pleasure of presenting the youth story. He chose the use the late-90s television show “Don’t Try This at Home” – with the aid of two (un)lucky band members – to demonstrate how God can help everyone with their daily lives.
The congregation was blessed by the Eastbourne Corps Singing Company (Leader Rebecca Ayling), who presented With All I Am (Hillsong Worship). The band presented a traditional Welsh lullaby, Suo Gân (arr. Steven Ponsford), which was followed by the Eastbourne Songsters (Leader Mark Ayling) offering Worthy (Emma Pears, arr. Simon Gash).
After another congregational song, “In Christ Alone”, Horwood presented the Bible message and demonstrated through Scripture that we are chosen, valued, loved, forgiven by Christ and belong to Him. As a continuation of the message, the band contributed, in what was a highlight of the weekend, the hauntingly beautiful Now I Belong to Jesus (Steven Ponsford), exquisitely played and a means of blessing the congregation. This was followed, after the benediction, by the equally heart-touching ’Mid All the Traffic (Leonard Ballantine).
After sharing coffee with the folks of the corps and being treated to another hearty meal, the band took to the seafront for an open-air ministry on the Wish Tower Slopes. Tackling bright sunshine and sea breeze, the band presented a short program of music to the town folk, most of which was featured during the other events of the weekend. The band was indebted to the Eastbourne commanding officer, Major Ivan Oliver, for taxiing the band and instruments back and forth to the seafront.
Back at the corps hall, following some refreshments, the band took the stage for the final meeting of the weekend. This commenced with Even Greater Things (Norman Bearcroft), a great march featuring the chorus “Give us faith, O Lord, faith for greater things”. Led by Roger Gadsden, the meeting again involved the participation of the congregation with the song “And can it be” to a contemporary arrangement of the familiar tune.
Following an opening prayer and words from Scripture, the band entered a time of reminiscence with the selections The Front Line (Leslie Condon) and Songs of Testimony (Norman Bearcroft). Between these items the Eastbourne Songsters sang the contemporary Go Forth in His Name (Graham Kendrick).
The congregation was given another opportunity to sing with “I Stand Amazed in the Presence”, which linked into Gadsden’s Bible message, where he spoke of the wonder and amazement of being brothers and sisters in Christ, having a new identity and being part of God’s community. As a conclusion to the message, the band gave a beautiful and spirit-filled rendition of the selction In Wonder Beholding (Leslie Condon). This much-loved composition depicts the awe and adoration of the Christian for God.
The evening, and the weekend, concluded with Adrian Horwood leading the band in singing A Choral Benediction (William Himes). The weekend at Eastbourne was well-supported by both local folk and regular band supporters. The enthusiasm and appreciation shown over the weekend was a great support to the band. The band subsequently received many kind words for their efforts and the Eastbournce corps officers extended their thanks to the band for its ministry.
South London Fellowship Band web site, original report by Chris Hunt