Cradley Heath Helping to Remember

A capacity crowd of over 250 people joined with the Cradley Heath Band of the Salvation Army (Bandmaster Rob Westwood-Payne) and Voices in Harmony (Musical Director Stephen Bradley) in the Cradley Heath Salvation Army hall on Saturday, 13 November 2010 for a Festival of Remembrance. The festival was held to remember the brave men and women who have fought on behalf of the United Kingdom and UK armed forces currently engaged in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Proceeds from ticket sales benefited the Poppy Appeal, in support of the charity work of The Royal British Legion.

The concert opened with Henry Goffin‘s march The Red Shield, as dignitaries, including the Deputy Mayor of Sandwell and her Consort, local councillors, Mr. and Mrs. James Morris MP and members of the emergency services, took their places in the audience.

To the strains of the march Under Two Flags (Bramwell Coles), which has become a staple of this annual event over the past four years, colors from the Salvation Army, Royal British Legion, Baden-Powell sections and the Royal Navy and British Army cadet forces marched in and were greeted enthusiastically.

Voices in Harmony provided varied music, including Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves (Verdi), I Dreamed a Dream (from “Les Miserables”), Love Cannot Fail (John Gowans/John Larsson) and You Raise Me Up (arr. Emerson).

The band featured another old Bramwell Coles march, In the Firing Line, and Stuart Watson‘s beautiful meditation on Psalm 91.

The band‘s major contribution for the evening was the tone poem A Call to Action, composed by Ray Steadman-Allen. This piece was written to be played by massed Salvation Army youth bands during the International Congress in 1978. The “call to action” referred to is found in the hymn of Mary Elizabeth Servoss, around which the music is based: Be Glad in the Lord and Rejoice.

Be glad in the Lord and rejoice,
All ye that are upright in heart;
And ye that have made him your choice,
Bid sadness and sorrow depart.

The music depicts the battles and challenges of everyday life as we try to live with the faith that Mary Servoss had and strive to be glad in the Lord.

The music comes to a simple, yet powerful calling from Jesus himself, using Cecil Frances Alexander‘s hymn:

Jesus calls us! o‘er the tumult
Of our life‘s wild, restless sea,
Day by day his sweet voice soundeth,
Saying: Christian, follow me.
In our joys and in our sorrows,
Days of toil and hours of ease,
Still he calls, in cares and pleasures,
That we love him more than these.

Once we accept this call and focus on God no matter what happens, then, just as the music comes to a majestic climax, we can join the hymn writer and sing:

Be glad in the Lord and rejoice,
His praises proclaiming in song;
Acclaim him with trumpet and voice,
The loud hallelujahs prolong.

Following this, the program took the form of an Act of Remembrance. The band‘s Deputy Bandmaster and principal cornet, John Shepherd, joined forces with Stephen Bradley and David Bishop-Rowe of Voices in Harmony to perform Introduction and Sunset (A. C. Green), The Last Post and Reveille. Amidst the prayers and the silence the band and audience joined together to sing Abide with Me, The Day Thou Gavest and O God Our Help in Ages Past.

The concert ended with The National Anthem and Darren Bartlett‘s music, The Lord Is Gracious (arr. Olaf Ritman). The evening was a fitting way to remember the hard work and sacrifices made by the members of the armed forces.

On Sunday, the Cradley Heath Band joined with hundreds of people to remember again, this time at the Rowley Regis War Memorial. The band provided preliminary music and accompanied the congregational hymns, O God Our Help in Ages Past, The Supreme Sacrifice and The National Anthem.

The band was also present on Sunday afternoon at Cradley Heath war memorial in the grounds of St. Luke‘s Church for a similar service.

Cradley Heath Band web site, original report by Bandmaster Rob Westwood-Payne