This article was originally published in the April 30, 2018 issue of The Southern Spirit, written by Southern Spirit Staff Writer and Territorial Band Percussionist Brad Rowland.
For 60 years, the Boscombe Corps of the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland Territory has hosted an Easter Convention that attracts Salvationists and visitors from a wide swath of the country. The 2018 edition featured a visit from the Southern Territorial Band, which completed a tour of England with service to the convention at the conclusion.
The band began its week-long journey in the Chelmsford Corps, meeting after lengthy travel and ministering in the form of a concert festival. Despite a bout of sickness within the band’s ranks, the group performed a variety of works, headlined by “The Triumph of Peace” in what was a moving and inspirational piece.
Following a two-day stay in Chelmsford and sightseeing at venues like St. Paul’s Cathedral and a prominent statue of Salvation Army founder William Booth in London, the group transitioned to Maidenhead Citadel, where it partnered with the trombone quartet of the Black Dyke Band. The combination of the two styles made for great fellowship and high-end music-making, with a special attraction of one of the oldest and most recognizable British-style brass bands in the world.
The two ensembles came together to perform a special rendition of “Celebration,” written by Leslie Condon, and the Southern Territorial Band trombone section combined with that of Black Dyke to perform “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” composed by Nick Simmons-Smith, territorial music secretary and bandmaster.
From there, the band ventured away from the area near London, traveling to Boscombe near the southern coast of the country. Immediately, the group attended a Maundy Thursday service featuring the corps music groups from Boscombe and enjoyed a time of fellowship and inclusion between the ensembles.
Good Friday featured two services with the theme of “The Power of the Cross,” and Lt. Colonel William Mockabee, program secretary and executive officer of the band, spoke with an uplifting tone and a lookahead to the inevitability of Easter Sunday. The band provided reflection with “Here at the Cross” by James Curnow in response to the Friday evening message, and the focus on the cross and message was evident.
While the weather did not fully cooperate with the band’s intent to march and preside over open-air meetings on Saturday, a rousing festival occurred in the evening. Lt. Colonel Debra Mockabee, assistant territorial program secretary, provided a devotional thought with the theme of “Praise My Soul,” and the band put together a comprehensive program with a litany of musical selections. The Boscombe timbrel brigade joined forces with the band on “Praise” and, later, the group from the South infused a bit of New Orleans with “Didn’t Willie Ramble?” in reflection of William Booth’s life and visits to the Southern Territory.
Easter Sunday acted as a culmination of both the tour and, of course, the worldwide Christian calendar. The band accompanied worship in the holiness meeting in the morning, including an indelible congregational singing of “Crown Him With Many Crowns,” the band’s vocal rendition of “And Can It Be?” and a reflective display of “The Light of the World” following Lt. Colonel Mockabee’s message entitled “That Easter Feeling.” A traditional praise meeting took place during the evening, and the two formal services were sandwiched around a stirring march through the streets of nearby Bournemouth and an upbeat open-air service alongside the Boscombe band and impressive timbrel brigade.
Soloists for the tour included Jeffrey Barrington, principle cornet, who ministered through “Prayer For Courage,” written by his brother and fellow bandsman Andrew Barrington. Joel Collier performed a Simmons-Smith composition of “Able” on euphonium in two locations. Darryl Crossland, the band’s soprano cornet player, put forth a rendition of “I Surrender All,” penned by Simmons-Smith, on the flugelhorn and, particularly, his performance in Maidenhead was both memorable and inspiring.
“I was delighted with the ministry of the band,” Simmons-Smith said. “This is a special group. I know it was hard to be away from our home territory during Easter, but this was a special moment for the band. The fellowship and spirit in the band is something very special. It is my prayer that this will encourage and inspire our musicians to go back to their corps with renewed energy and drive to make a difference.”