The sanctuary of St. Luke’s Anglican Cathedral, Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, was replete with music and people, as a capacity crowd filled the pews to hear and participate in a stirring evening of ‘war-time’ music.
Friday, November 4th, 2016’s concert opened with the Royal Canadian Legion Band, Branch 25, (Sault Ste. Marie), leading the assembled in the singing of ‘God Save The Queen.’
Music direction for the evening was by Stephen Mallinger, St. Luke’s Choirmaster & Organist, and included a piece from the choir, ‘Crossing The Bar’ by Sir Charles Parry.
The Royal Canadian Legion Band, Branch 25 (Rick Thorold, Drum Major) and 49th (SSM) Field Regiment RCA Pipes & Drums (Pipe Major, Sandy Ross) each performed several numbers, coming together for stirring renditions of ‘Amazing Grace’, ‘Maple Leaf Forever’, and more.
The evening included a sing-a-long, with the support of Bob Tulloch’s vocals and Stephen Mallinger on piano. The crowd sure knew the songs and they never sounded better. ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’; ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’; ‘There’s a Long, Long Trail’; ‘Moonlight Serenade’; ‘Blue Moon’ (1934); and ‘White Cliffs of Dover’, were all big hit’s during W.W. 1 & 2.
‘It’s A Long Way To Tipperary’, one of the most recognizable military songs in history was written in 1909 in Warwickshire, England, and shot to fame after Allied troops fighting in France took it up as one of their favourite marching songs.
According to one of the descendants of the song’s composer, Harry Williams, it only came to light thanks to a five-shilling bet. It has now become the longest-earning song in musical history. The song, originally named after the Irish village of Connemara, had been regularly performed by Mr Williams and his partner Jack Judge, but didn’t take its final shape until 1912. Mr Judge met a man in a pub in Stalybridge, Cheshire, and bet five shillings that he would be able to compose a new song within 24 hours. But rather than compose something fresh, he simply changed Connemara to Tipperary in the song’s name. (www.dailymail.co.uk)
‘There’ll be Bluebirds Over The White Cliffs of Dover’ was written to lift the spirits of the Allies at a time when Nazi Germany had conquered much of Europe and were bombing Britain. The song was written about a year after British Commonwealth and German aircraft had been fighting over the cliffs of Dover in the Battle of Britain in late June 1940 until the end of October. The lyrics in fact referred to the RAF and RCAF fighter pilots (in their blue uniforms) as “bluebirds” and expresses confidence that they shall prevail during the dark days of the Battle of Britain. The song references terms such as “Thumbs Up!” which was an RAF and RCAF term for permission to go, and it references “flying in those angry skies” where the air war was taking place.
Two iconic poems were read. ‘High Flight’, written by Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee Jr., was offered by F/Cpl Kenneth Edwards, 155 Borden Gray GC, Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron.
‘In Flanders Fields’, written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, was read by Chief PO Ria Wilson, 46 Royal Sovereign Sea Cadets. Throughout the evening, The Very Reverend James McShane, Dean of Algoma and Rector, St. Luke’s Cathedral, shared stories from, ‘A Boy from Botwood: Pte. A.W. Manuel, Royal Newfoundland Regiment, 1914 – 1919.’ by Bryan Davies and Andrew Traficante, Dundurn Press. The book will be available January, 2017.
‘I’m going to tell my story. With those words, eighty-three-year-old Arthur Manuel set his remarkable First World War memoir in motion. Hidden in the Manuel family records until its 2011 discovery by his grandson David Manuel, Arthur’s story is now brought to new life.
Like many Great War veterans, Manuel had never discussed his wartime life with anyone. Determined to escape his impoverished rural Newfoundland existence, he enlisted with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in late 1914. His harrowing accounts of life under fire span the Allies’ ill-fated 1915 Gallipoli campaign, the Regiment’s 1916 near-destruction at Beaumont-Hamel, and his 1917 Passchendaele battlefield capture. Manuel’s account of his seventeen-month POW experience, including his nearly successful escape from a German forced labour camp, provides unique, compelling Great War insights.’ (dundurn.com)
A hymn sing, followed by ‘O Canada’, closed an evening of meaningful music, reflection, story-telling and fellowship.
‘We Will Remember Them’.