Brilliant autumn sunshine greeted Salvationists and Friends as they travelled from across South Wales and gathered in Tenby on Saturday 22nd October to celebrate 130 years of the work of The Salvation Army in the town.
Morriston Citadel Songsters joined forces with the South & Mid Wales Divisional Fellowship Band to support the day.
The good weather enabled an Open Air in the grounds of St. Mary’s Church led by Band Sergeant Mark Symonds .
A good number of people passing along the main street were attracted by the music of the band and songsters and stopped to listen, many joined in with the singing of well known hymn tunes. Both groups presented individual items. Morriston Songsters presented ‘Ev’ry Time I Feel The Spirit’ and ‘The Christian Mission which included timbrels while the bands items included the march ‘Mighty To Save’ and also featured the Male Voices in ‘God’s World’ using the tune ‘Myfanwy’.
An anniversary tea attended by local civic leaders was provided by members of the church.
Excitement and anticipation was evident by the waiting congregation inside the Church for the evening Anniversary Celebration Festival. To the accompaniment of the band Morriston Songsters marched to their places. With dignity the flags of Tenby Corps, Morriston Songsters and the South & Mid Wales Division processed down the Nave of the Church and were received by Divisional Commander Lieutenant-Colonel J.P. Ramos before being placed on the Alter. After words of welcome from Cannon Andrew Grace the congregation joined together in the singing of ‘Who Is On The Lords Side’ and prayer was offered by Lieutenant-Colonel Karin Ramos.
Praise was the theme of the first two items from Morriston Songsters, the energetic ‘God of My Praise’ was followed by the more relaxed style of ‘Total Praise’. Tenby Songster Leader Peter Greenway continued the theme of praise with the reading of Psalm 95.
The Band featured ‘Ein Feste Burg’ by Andrew Mackereth, its grandiose fanfare start leading into a scintillating arrangement of the great hymn ‘A Mighty Fortress Is Our God’
Lauren Mia Jones (Granddaughter of the officers at Tenby) was the soloist for the the evening. This 13 year old has certainly come a long way since she first started singing in Morriston Singing Company five years ago. Lauren featured ‘Footprints In The Sand’ and ‘How Long Will I Love You’.
Representing the local corps Andi Drabble testified of her Christian life journey that had eventually brought her to Tenby Salvation Army.
The acoustic of the surroundings suited the second selection from Morriston Songsters. ‘More Than Wonderful’ an arrangement by Len Ballantine of a Lanny Wolfe classic brings together all the different names used in the bible for Jesus. This was followed by ‘In The Strength of The King’ a full and bright setting of a classic Salvation Army song.
Eric Ball was credited to be one of the greatest composers of his time and ‘Constant Trust’ is proof of this, the band gave a thoughtful and moving reading of the music with’Trust and Obey’, ‘The Cross Is Not Greater Than His Grace’ and ‘Trusting As The Moments Fly’ being the featured tunes which were sure to have been going through the mind of the listener.
In her second set Lauren Mia Jones sang the beautiful ‘The Prayer’ before the congregation joined together again to sing ‘The Power of The Cross’.
As the final stanzas of the chorus faded away Morriston Songsters moved into the body of the Church to surround the congregation to sing ‘The Christ of Calvary’ this is a firm favourite of the Songsters since it was written by their own leader. Moving back into formation ‘Midnight Cry’ featured Songster Leader Chris Lear as soloist. The final item from the Songsters was the toe tapping ‘From The First Hallelujah to The Last Amen’
Prior to the Bible Message and Thoughts from Lieutenant-Colonel J.P. Ramos the band turned to music from a Welshman now residing in America. The name of Ralph Pearce is synominous with music making in The Salvation Army in Wales. The words of the hymn ‘Fairest Lord Jesus, Lord of the Nations’ were the basis for his arrangement of the tune ‘Ascalon’.
With the evening almost over the congregation were given one last opportunity to join together in song. During the singing of ‘I’ll Go In The Strength of The Lord’ the flags were returned to the bearers and marched back down the church.
The evening concluded with the band playing Norman Bearcroft’s toe tapping march ‘Coleg Y Fro’ better known by its English name of ‘Land of Song’.