Fundraising Concert as Wales’ Oldest Corps Celebrates 138 Years
by Kathryn Stowers, photos Major Nigel Collins
On a warm June evening, a capacity congregation from around the South & Mid Wales Division and a number of local churches gathered in Merthyr Tydfil Salvation Army Hall for a fundraising festival, in aid of the Candidates’ Fund, launching the celebration of the corps’ 138th anniversary.
Morriston Citadel Songsters were supported by the home corps’ Fellowship Band, and the two sections, between them, led an enjoyable and challenging evening of praise and worship.
The Songsters began the evening with a rousing rendition of ‘God of my Praise’, commanding the attention of the congregation from the outset. The brigade then immediately quietened the mood and brought the festival into the attitude of prayer with ‘Our Prayer’, an original composition by Songster Leader Chris Lear, before Major Nigel Collins, Merthyr Tydfil’s Commanding Officer, shared in prayer.
Next, the songsters brought two songs, designed to illustrate the ever-presence and might of God, in a reworking of General John Gowans’ classic ‘Everywhere (As High As The Sky)’ and Richard Smallwood’s ‘Total Praise’.
The diversity and strength of the group was displayed by a quartet of ladies’ voices along with Songster Leader Chris Lear, blessing the congregation with the popular ballad ‘You Raise Me Up’, a clear melodious sound, adding to the sense of praise and worship which flowed throughout the evening.
Merthyr Tydfil Fellowship Band added to the programme with contrasting pieces, Howard Davies’ march ‘God’s Faithfulness’ and ‘Glorify Your Name’, an arrangement of the popular worship song ‘Jesus, we love you, we worship and adore you.’ By Kevin Ponsford.
The evening featured a number of Salvation Army songster ‘standards’, including Tom Fettke & Linda Lee Johnson’s stunning hymn of praise, ‘The Majesty and Glory of Your Name’, based on Psalm 8 and the beautiful personal testimony of Len Ballantine’s arrangement of ‘More Than Wonderful’.
In true Welsh style, the congregational singing of Chris Mallet’s re-working of Fanny Crosby’s ‘To God Be the Glory’ raised the roof, with the Fellowship band enjoying the up-tempo arrangement.
The Band also entertained and blessed with a fanfare based on Ein’ Feste Berg, associated with ‘A Mighty Fortress’, followed by Robert Redhead’s ‘Jacob’s Ladder’.
The talent within the songster brigade was displayed further with Major Elizabeth McCaw Aldworth presenting a superb soprano solo ‘I’m a Soldier Bound for Glory’.
Before Major David McCaw Aldworth shared some thoughts on how we have a responsibility, as believers, to share God’s Word with those around us, the songsters moved to surround the congregation and sang an original arrangement of ‘The Christ of Calvary’, again by Chris Lear. The presence of the Lord was very evident as the words and music filled the Hall. Following Major’s words, the brigade shared ‘Your Grace Still Amazes Me’, which included the lyrics ‘Each time I come into your presence, I stand in wonder once again’ and the sense of awe and wonder at Lord’s presence permeated the entire evening.
Songster Leader Chris Lear saved the best of the programme till last, finishing the evening with the spectacular gospel song ‘Midnight Cry’, which looks forward to when Jesus will come again in His glory.
The evening was organised to help raise funds for the Candidates’ Fund, but more importantly, to share in worship and praise and to celebrate the rich Salvation Army heritage in the oldest corps in Wales. The Lord was present throughout the evening, blessing all who joined together, and His name was glorified and raised up!