Echoes of Faith
We all think back to our childhood from time to time; thinking how we might have done things better, but also remembering the good things that happened to us
For myself, the best thing that happened to me was joining my local church choir and starting to sing.
The parish church of St. Mary's, Birkenhead, was situated next to Cammel Laird's shipyard on the banks of the River Mersey, just opposite Liverpool.
I say 'was' because it was demolished years ago because it was so far from the town centre and on the wrong side of the Mersey tunnel
It was not a very attractive church really, but it was what went on inside that mattered, and I absolutely loved my time there.
This was where I first sang The Messiah as well as The Crucifixion by Stainer, two great pillars of English church music, and all of this under the direction of Mr. Shaw, our bearded wonder of a choirmaster!
It was he who taught me both piano and theory for which I have been ever grateful, even if I did not show it at the time.
I also learnt many hymns, and although they are not the first things that you remember, they are nonetheless lodged in the memory, never to be forgotten.
More recently, I have started to compose music. Well, I always have done some composing and arranging, but now I am retired, I have had more time to devote to this aspect of my life. In looking for a text to set, I have begun to remember those hymns sung in my youth, and I have picked some of my favourites to set to music in my own style.
The original words are often from the Victorian period and the style, I suppose, is old fashioned, but they nevertheless still resonate today. I therefore picked three hymns - The king of Love, Brightest and Best, Let All the World - and just using the words, I wrote new settings in a more modern style. In fact, there are now five settings, but only three are so far published and performed. The other two await their chance.
So why 'Echoes of Faith'? As we get older, things that didn't seem that important before now take on more significance, and this has certainly been the case with my Christianity. I'm not a bible puncher, so don't worry, but I do think it is important in so many ways to remember where we come from in terms of our background. After all, we are products of our upbringing.
I listen to my memories of those times in Birkenhead, those 'echoes' of times past, and I have tried to create something which will give something back in terms of music. I hope that they will give pleasure to those who hear them. They have certainly given me a great deal to think about, and remember!
© 2017 Colin R. Cartwright