Church

Not only because you need something, but because you have something to be thankful for.

What's On

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Sundays

  • 10:30am - 12pm Morning Worship

    • Bible focused ministry, unhurried prayer, traditional and modern songs, testimony, inspiring and caringly prepared music from our band and songsters, a warm welcome to all who come, combine to offer continuing spiritual enrichment first lit for us around Westow Street in 1887.

Weekdays

Christian faith during the week, when our doors are open to offer programmes and activities for the whole community.

  • Monday

    • 10am Craft Class
      • This runs fortnightly

    • 12pm Lunch Club
      • ​Every Monday lunchtime a team of faithful helpers provide a two course meal for £3

      • Membership has grown from a small group eating in our lounge to a weekly attendance today of around 35, now using our Community Hall

    • 1:15pm Over 60s
  • Tuesday

    • 10am Little Gems
      • Activities include toys, crafts, singing and refreshments

    • 5:15pm Rainbows
      • The age group for Rainbows is 5 – 7 years
    • 6:30pm Brownies
      • The age group for Brownies is 7 – 10 years
    • 6:30pm Guides
      • The age group for Guides is 10 – 14 years
    • 8pm Band Practice
  • Wednesday

    • 10am Little Gems
  • Thursday

    • 10am Little Gems
    • 11:30am Informal Prayer Time
      • followed by a short Bible Study and a light lunch

    • 1:15pm Coffee & chat
    • 1:30pm Cameo 
      • Come And Meet Each Other Club 

      • The fourfold aim of the Cameo Programme is Worship, Education, Fellowship and Service and a variety of speakers are included in the programme of events. 

    • 7:45pm Songster (Choir) Practice

Events

  • Craft Class

Our Craft Club has an ethos of helping others through its creativity. Recently money was raised for The British Home & Hospital for Incurables and many knitted dolls were donated to the Cancer Hair Care Project. The latest endeavour is to provide teaching aids to the Premature Baby Unit at Kings College Hospital. A warm welcome awaits anyone who wishes to be part of this friendly group.

Music

The Salvation Army has a wonderful musical tradition that the public greatly enjoy. With the Psalmists, Sunday worship at Upper Norwood, supported by the Upper Norwood Band and Songsters (choir) – “everything that has breath” - praises the Lord.

“Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet…” (Psalm 150)

In addition to accompanying congregational songs and hymns, the Band contributes a wide range of pieces from The Salvation Army’s brass band repertoire – both quietly meditative and joyous and foot tapping.

“…make music to the Lord with … the sound of singing…” (Psalm 98)

Similarly our Songsters – accompanied on our Steinway concert grand piano – sing in a variety of styles, again using Salvation Army repertoire old and new, but also pieces drawn from the wider Christian choral catalogues. You can find out much more about our Band and Songsters on their information pages on this site.

“…praise him with tambourine…praise him with…strings…” (Psalm 150)

From time to time, worship, concert and social activities at Upper Norwood can feature musical expressions as diverse as timbrels, guitars, male voice singing, brass, pianoforte and vocal solos.

“Praise the Lord”! (Psalm 150)

  • Band

“We know that Christmas has arrived when we hear the Salvation Army band”, is something all Salvation Army bands get used to hearing each December. But there’s so much more that our band does throughout the year.

Much of what the band is today was shaped by Lieut. Colonel Michael Williams, our Bandmaster until 2009. He brought fresh enthusiasm with his appointment and, as a former ISB BBb player and Secretary; he also brought a wealth of experience.

The band instituted an open-house policy for rehearsals. Any competent brass player can come to rehearsal. All have been made welcome, and many have made a great contribution to the life of the band.

Each year an open rehearsal is held at the end of the banding “year”. As many as thirty players (plus audience) have enjoyed an evening of good Salvation Army banding, followed by our legendary strawberries and cream.

Annual Band Sundays were recommenced. In 2011, we went a step further and celebrated our first full Band Weekend for many years. Bexleyheath Band joined with us in a partnership festival, which also featured euphonium soloist Derick Kane. Our faith was rewarded with a full hall – and £1000 contributed for Chikankata Hospital.

In 2013, our Band joined our Songsters in a weekend campaign to Gorseinon in South Wales. In addition to playing to a packed hall Saturday evening, the Band and Songsters conducted Sunday worship and undertook a well-received open air witness at the large local ASDA store.

2014 has been a significant year in the history of the Upper Norwood Band as we celebrated 125 years of ministry and music making. In May, we welcomed Hendon Band, under the leadership of Dr Stephen Cobb, who treated a packed hall to a programme of the highest order. Then in June, we had our 125 Reunion Weekend. Our weekend leader was Major John Waters and a Reunion Band was conducted by Major George Whittingham. Photographs and programmes from the Reunion weekend can be seenhere.

And, of course, every December does see the band taking the lead in an extensive carolling programme. Venues over recent years have included the steps of the British Museum, the BBC’s Bush House, Borough Market, and our annual early morning and evening marathons at Victoria Station. Each year, we also visit a number of care homes in the Sydenham area and, for several years, a band party visited Downview Prison.

  • Songsters

The early history of the Upper Norwood Songster Brigade is shrouded in mystery. The Founder frowned on organised choirs, so official recognition of songster brigades came some time after that for bands. Also, until the 1930s, songster brigades and their leaders were both under the auspices of the corps Bandmaster. So perhaps it’s not so surprising that our Corps History Book makes little mention of the Songsters pre-war.

The honour of being the Salvation Army’s first officially recognised vocal section is generally accorded to our near neighbours at Penge (September 1898). However our Corps History Book does mention that George Chandler, who was Band Sergeant in the early 1900s, was Songster Leader, prior to being commissioned Corps Sergeant Major in 1918 (George Chandler was admitted to the Order of the Founder on his retirement as Sergeant Major in 1949.) This suggests Upper Norwood Songster Brigade started sometime between 1900 and 1914.

The Corps History Book records a J Hambidge as Songster Leader in the late 1920s; whilst Stewart Thompson became the leader in the early 1930s (Stewart went on to become Bandmaster, 1942-1947).

In 1939, Adjutant & Mrs Bernard Adams and their young family moved from a “leaking flat” in Penge to quarters in Kingslyn Crescent, SE19. By 1942, Adjutant Adams was conducting Upper Norwood Songsters, taking over from Major (later Colonel) Harry Coote. In later year it is recalled Colonel Adams saying that, when he first took on the songsters, some people expressed a hope that the Brigade would continue to sing “with feeling” which, to the Colonel’s way of thinking, meant just singing out of time!

In 1947, when Major Bernard Adams became corps Bandmaster, the leadership of the songsters passed to Major (later Lieut. Colonel) Wesley Evans. Lieut Colonel Evans, the father of our present day Songster Sergeant, Major Gwynneth Evans, was well-known in Army musical circles after the war, with eventually some sixteen songs in the Musical Salvationist to his credit. “Wes Evans” was a pioneer instructor at the first “singing company camp” held at Sunbury Court in 1948, and also the pianist of choice for large Army gatherings.

When Major Evans farewelled from the Corps in 1949, to be Chancellor of the old Birmingham Division, the brigade was led in turn by Peter Groves, Tom Silvester and Ron Harrison. But in late 1957, Brigadier Bernard Adams agreed to resume the leadership of the Songsters that he had relinquished ten years earlier; an appointment that he then retained, with distinction, until his promotion to glory in April 1988.

From the late 1950s the Brigade grew steadily in size and reputation until, in the Army’s Centenary year (1965), there were over 90 songsters on the roll. In the previous year the brigade had flown to Scotland to conduct a weekend campaign at the Govan Corps.

Every songster who came under Colonel Adams’ influence will have his or her own special memories, such as programmes that invariably commenced with “Jesu, Thou joy of loving hearts” to George Marshall’s magnificent tune, Harton-Lea and our famous testimony periods!

Sounds Triumphant was an LP record issued in 1972 to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of Colonel Adams’ leadership of both the International Staff Band and Upper Norwood Songsters. Of the Songsters’ rendition of “Beyond the Sunset”, Eric Ball wrote, “The technically assured singers make no concession to mere sentimentality, but seem to face the heavenly prospect with quiet gaiety and assurance.”

In 1960, the purchase of an electronic organ was marked by a Love Feast. This became an annual celebration, originally held each Maundy Thursday, which continued for over forty years.

Hand in hand with first class musical presentation went first class deportment. The Brigade set the standard by which other brigades were measured. The plain but distinctive songster uniform trimmings, devised by Colonel Adams, were copied by a number of other brigades at the time.

Colonel Adams’ service as an Upper Norwood local officer was recognised in 1975, on his retirement as Bandmaster of the International Staff Band. Part of the citation of the Order of the Founder, to which he was admitted by General Clarence Wiseman in a ceremony in our hall, read “Colonel Bernard Adams has…served wholeheartedly as a local officer”.

After Colonel Adams was promoted to glory in 1988, it was decided to inaugurate the Bernard Adams Trust, a ten-year programme to help support young Salvationists at music college. After an initial joint festival given by the ISB and our Songsters, the annual Prelude to Advent programme saw that year’s recipient soloing with our Songsters.

For two years, the Songsters were led by Retired Deputy Songster Leader David Mitchell, prior to Deputy Bandmaster Geoff Marsh being commissioned Songster Leader in 1990.

Transferring, with his wife Mary, to Upper Norwood in 1985, Geoff had previously been Songster Leader at Reading Central. The pace of activity picked up noticeably. Weekend campaigns at Boscombe, Clacton, South Shields and St Helens are recalled, together with events at local churches and a carol concert at Chelsea Town Hall. Two outstanding engagements were the Brigade’s campaigns in Holland (Vlaardingen) in 1992 and Dublin in 1996. Geoff also directed three performances in our hall of the Gowans and Larsson musical Spirit. The Brigade’s present leader, Russell Allen, who had been Geoff’s deputy, became Songster Leader on the retirement of Geoff in 2000.

The Upper Norwood Songsters in the second decade of the 21st century sees the support of Christian worship at our Corps as our main focus. We regularly bring our congregations new Salvation Army vocal music, alongside items from the wider non-Army vocal repertoire.

Recent years have seen the Songsters travel to the Potteries, Eastbourne, Canterbury as well as presenting programmes and leading meetings at local Corps and homes in the London area. In 2013, the Songsters joined our Band in a weekend campaign to Gorseinon in South Wales. In addition to singing to a packed hall Saturday evening, the Band and Songsters conducted Sunday worship and undertook a well-received open air witness at the large local ASDA store. For a number of years, the Brigade visited The Haven children’s home at Christmas (complete with Father Christmas!) and has, with the Band, given a number of Christmas concerts at the Ben Curtis retirement complex in West Wickham.

Throughout the years, Upper Norwood Songsters has had the invaluable support of many fine accompanists. Mrs Colonel Ivy Adams gave excellent support on the electronic organ purchased in 1960. Mrs Colonel Lily Skinner started as a temporary pianist but carried on giving sterling support until poor heath intervened. In 1964, a Steinway grand piano was presented to the Corps. Three years later it was refurbished to concert standard. Supreme on this fine instrument was Dennis Woodland, whose accompaniments were as much a feature of the Brigade as were his pianoforte solos. Today,

Xenia Kodji carries on this fine tradition of Upper Norwood pianists, with her expert renditions of the very many complex piano parts we encounter today.

Meet the people

our church leaders are committed to transforming the lives of people in their community

Lorraine Kinnear

Captain

Michael Kinnear

Captain