Holy Week encapsulates many emotions. For the young – school holidays and a certain seasonal confection. For some, a time of sorrow and contemplation as they think upon the marking of Christ’s crucifixion. For others, a mounting anticipation of the high point of the Christian calendar – celebrating the risen Christ on Easter Sunday morning.
For a number of years, the South London Fellowship Band has gathered with friends and family at Bromley Temple, on the Monday of Holy Week, to present music in season and meditate upon Christ’s passion.
This year our leaders were Colonels Neil & Christine Webb (IHQ) who, with our conductor Darrell Scholes, had carefully planned a Pre-Easter Meditation & Celebration.
As people arrived, they were greeted by the band playing a pre-meeting sequence: the tune Mother Machree, with which is associated General Albert Orsborn’s words O the charm of the cross!, followed by Now I belong to Jesus (Ponsford) and Time to be holy (Sharman).
After congregation and band joined together in Catherine Baird’s song When Jesus looked o’er Galilee, Les Swift prayed that “…our eyes and our minds be opened to the reality of what you did for each one of us…”
Guest soloist for the evening was Singing Company Leader Lisa Davis (Maidstone), who was accompanied by Marjory Spicer. In her first set of songs, in which Lisa’s husband Jeremy accompanied on the recorder, Lisa brought to us The Wondrous Cross (Watts/Larter) and Behold the man (Owens). Later, Lisa was joined by Jessica Boughton (Chatham) for a duet, Green Hill (Alexander/Ballantine). The choice of songs – and the sympathetic way that they were presented – was a well-appreciated feature of the meeting.
At the outset, Colonel Neil said that we would be focussing our attention on some of the things that relate to the journey that Jesus took in the last week of his life. This was presented, by Colonels Neil & Christine in five cameos: cloaks and branches; whips and chords; the oil of anointing; 30 pieces of sliver; and bowl and towel. After each cameo, the artefacts referred to were laid on the “altar” at the front of the hall.
Dean Goffin’s The challenge of the Cross has been featured by SA bands for some sixty years now. This features several songs not in our current song book: Must Jesus bear the Cross alone…? I am coming to the Cross and Take up thy cross and follow me. But ends with the tune Rockingham, When I survey the wondrous cross.
In 1976, Mervyn Clarke took the song Precious Jesus, O to love thee! and gave it a very thoughtful new setting for songsters. A few years later, Robert Redhead arranged this for brass, and Adrian Horwood presented this as a euphonium solo
Colonel Neil spoke movingly about Darren Shaw, the composer of Guardian of my soul – how ill health took everything away from him, including his officership, but now Darren’s health has improved sufficiently for Darren to resume his calling. This piece takes Darren’s original worship song, I worship you and skilfully blends this with the tune Aurelia – O Jesus I have promised. Both songs feature the phrase Guardian of my soul.
Other items by the band included Jesus good above all other, Kenneth Downie’s arrangement of the tune Quem pastores laudavere and the band, as a male voice chorus, singing John Peterson’s 1948 song, It took a miracle
The evening ended with the congregation again joining with the band in singing My life must be Christ’s broken bread. Prior to this Lisa Davis brought to us Behold the Lamb of God (Poxon/Martin) and I know a fount, a fresh setting by Benjamin Harlan of Oliver Cooke’s 1920’s song. The last band contribution was William Broughton’s arrangement of Nothing do I bring.