The Sacrament of Music

The bandsmen assemble in the ante-room

Poised for the festival

Surpliced in red,

Drawn from the ordinary of everyday life

And seeking perfection together -

Celebrants of holy praise.


Each comes bearing a gift

Discovered within

Developed with time,

An earthy art from the elements of nature

In harmony with the song of creation

With sharps and flats unknown.


They come with mystery beyond thought,

With the language of the soul

Transporting, transforming,

As the breath of brass and percussion rhythms

Enchant in the blended sound

Of unity from disciplined conformity.


God accepts their work of devotion -

Sacramental music,

Eucharistic offering,

Possessing it in silent prayer

Before they file into the hall

To the welcome of expectant applause


The baton drops on the opening march

Of changing mood

With variable dynamic

And that which could be fragmented to a thousand quavers

Is presented whole - unbroken

In a climax of brilliant fortissimo.

The creator fills his own creation

Of melodic cadence

And struggling fugue,

And the bandsmen discover their priesthood

Recalling the body and blood of Christ

In lines and spaces beyond the chalice.


After visiting Southsea with Upper Norwood Band


June 1987