Southern and Wessex Branch

Over the years I have attended many of the excellent events held at various locations.

This time we were at All Saints', Burgess Hill, built in 1881. It offers a light, pleasant and comfortable place to meet. In recent times the main church has gone through change, with a good sized vestibule with a welcome refreshment bar and toilet facilities; new coloured blue glass had been added to the church windows; comfortable chairs and carpet.

Following a short service led by the Rev Robert Bushby, we were entertained by Derek Thorogood who spoke of Erik Routley, minister, musician and hymn writer. His talk was interspersed with hymn tunes by Erik, such well known as 'Abingdon' and, very new to me, 'Fonthill', all beautifully and expertly accompanied, by Ian Verran at the Morgan & Smith pipe organ. All seemed to enjoy and sang with great spirit. 'Joy and Gladness', sung to the tune Kansfield, was a real winner. He ended his talk, by introducing us to a Cary! Micklem tune, but this time to Erik's words 'In praise of God meet duty and delight.'

After a short break, John Mansfield gave a potted history of the events leading up to the formation of the Guild, and bringing us up to date, reminding us that we are the only Branch still functioning in the country. He reminded us that they held their first newly named 'URC Music' meeting at Clapton Park URC this year.

We all stopped for lunch. This was immediately followed by the AGM. After initial acceptance of the previous year's minutes, the Secretary reported that URC Music is planning a meeting at Harrogate on the 26 September, subject 'Harvest'. The meeting continued with the appointment of Officers. The Chairman stated that the remaining three on the Committee, Secretary, Committee member and himself would not be seeking re-election. Sadly there were no nominations for the vacancies.

The Chairman then read out the following proposal:

"It Is proposed that at the conclusion of today's event the Southern & Wessex Branch of the URC Musicians' Guild will close; that the winding up of its affairs be entrusted to its present committee, namely; Sheila Charlesworth, Ian Verran (Secretary), David Smith (Treasurer), Robert Taunton (Chairman)."

After three attempts, and a show of hands, 8 number supported the proposal, no-one objected, 7 abstained. How sad...... this would be the last meeting of the branch.

After the gloomy meeting, everyone livened up with the afternoon session. Great fun was had with members joining in the singing of 'Trial by Jury', by Gilbert & Sullivan -- mostly being sight read.
We were fortunate to have the services of Chris Hyson who ably played the accompaniment; he was asked to slow it down a bit, as we couldn't sight read the music and words to keep up with his fingers! We were joined by some of the members of the Congregational Singers from the Worthing area who took some of the lead parts, together with our own Jack Beeson who sang 'Counsel'. Although I may have sung all the notes, but not necessarily in the right order, I'm glad I was there.

The day ended with tea and cake, followed by the hymn 'The day thou gravest, Lord, is ended' and concluded with the Guild Prayer.

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