Birmingham band hits the right note at Christmas

published on 30 Dec 2021

This Christmas Salvation Army bands have been playing again in towns and cities up and down the country after they had to stay silent last year. 

The evocative sound of a brass band playing can stop the most determined commuters and shoppers in their tracks as they catch the tunes of a familiar Christmas carol.  

In Birmingham, the junior youth band played in Birmingham City centre and the senior band played at Birmingham Children’s and Women’s hospitals. The senior band also played at care homes, adult rehabilitation centres, retail areas, Grand Central station as well as residential streets throughout December.

Birmingham band played to public
Part of The Salvation Army Birmingham Citadel band playing in the snow (previous Christmas)

Leader of the band at Birmingham Citadel, Gavin Lamplough said: “To keep people safe we were restricted to groups of six playing in a band in 2020 and normally played outside. We have a big band at Birmingham, so we felt depleted in power a year ago, because of the restrictions. However, this year, we were able to be together as a larger group and to visit more places  - this lifted the band members. It is wonderful to see the joy it brings as you see peoples’ faces light up. People have said how good it is to have The Salvation Army band back this year.  

“We can see that music lifts people and it is important to us to spread the good news of Christianity through playing music in local places at Christmas. Most of our funding comes through carolling on the streets over the festive period and the general public are so generous. These donations assist us to provide essential food parcels to vulnerable families and individuals. The profits also help fund the annual Christmas Present Appeal which provides toys for children who wouldn’t otherwise receive a gift at Christmas.” 

SA Birmingham Citadel band
Birmingham Citadel Salvation Army band

In partnership with Oldbury church and Aston centre, around 450 food parcels were provided shortly before Christmas together with 1000 toy parcels. The goods were distributed through various social services agencies, family support teams, Police, GP surgeries, health visitors, schools, hostels and safe houses.   

The Birmingham Citadel band have been able to play around the City for much of December, although larger-scale events have been scaled back due to the new COVID restrictions. Church services are available by live-stream, for those that wish to avoid in-person gatherings.   

We can see that music lifts people and it is important to us to spread the good news of Christianity through playing music in local places at Christmas.
Leader of the band at Birmingham Citadel, Gavin Lamplough

Music is still integral to the mission and worship of The Salvation Army church, Paul Sharman Assistant Director of Music and Creative Arts at The Salvation Army said: “Music is not the story but it helps us to tell the story.  The words associated with the music we play carry so much significance when we raise our praises to God. Brass bands are still used within the Army and although there aren’t as many bands compared to post-war Britain, they are still used within the church and attract people to play from all ages, skills and backgrounds. Brass instruments can be learned relatively easily and many start with learning a cornet.” 

Historically, for a Christian Army on the march, brass instruments are more mobile than violins and these instruments became the musical instruments of choice. 

A Christmas scene at a Salvation Army church

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