12 November 2018

Solo

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.
Thousands of citizens descended on Barker's Pool in Sheffield city centre yesterday morning. We were there to commemorate the fallen heroes of World War One - a hundred years after that terrible conflict ended.

The sombre service proceeded and we reached a point where everyone was meant to sing the eighteenth century hymn by Isaac Watts - "O God Our Help in Ages Past...". The brass band played the intro and then bam - it was time to raise our voices and so I did. The only trouble was that nobody else in my section of the crowd was singing. Unexpectedly and slightly embarrassingly I was in effect singing a solo!
The woman next to me had a programme and it was open to show the nine verses of the hymn. I had begun so I couldn't just finish. I had to keep going and so I sang those nine verses at full volume thinking only of those who died in World War One. I was singing in their honour. At times my voice was tremulous with emotion.

When the service was over and the marchers had gone from the square, I felt a hand on my shoulder. A man who was a stranger to me said, "I just want to say thank you for singing that hymn so beautifully. I was really moved. I was standing just behind you. Thank you."

And I said, "I thought everyone was going to join in. Thank you for your kind words..."
Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly, forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the op’ning day.

31 comments:

  1. People who don't sing miss out.

    Nine vereses is a long time to sing a solo, well done you!

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  2. Well done on singing all nine verses!

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    1. And I hadn't brought my throat pastilles.

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  3. Good for you! No doubt you touched more hearts than you realize. Most importantly you fully gave the honor and respect that had been earned by those 100 years ago.

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    1. Somehow it became a personal tribute.

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  4. That took courage. I could never sing alone like that....in fact, I can't sing at all. Well done!

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    1. I just thought **** it - I will keep going and damn what anybody else thinks.

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  5. This must have been very emotional, for you and those around you. Even if I had not been singing from the start, I guess I would have joined in as soon as I'd have realised someone in the crowd near me was singing.

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    1. I was a choirboy in my village church so I was familiar with this hymn. Afterwards I surmised that most people wouldn't have had that connection.

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  6. I would have joined you in singing! I have always loved hymns, though not a " religious" person . How odd that no one near you was singing. I guess they had never been to church and didn't know the tune?

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    1. I think that was partly it Frances. Not many people had programmes.

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    2. I've been to church all my life and only learnt the tune in the last few years!

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    3. That teaches you for looking out of the window!

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  7. Very well done! Had it been me, I probably would have dried up, although the crowd would have been grateful given my awful singing voice.

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    1. They could have put their fingers in their ears.

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  8. Replies
    1. I am Yorkshire's answer to Pavarotti!

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  9. I'm willing to bet that you were the envy of everyone within hearing range. I bet that they were wishing that they could life up their voices, too, and give respect to the fallen. If I were there, I would have been crying buckets, touched to my heart's soul by the simplicity and bravery, at the purity and honor of your song. There is nothing much that is more elemental and universal than the human voice, singing praise and reverence. Well done, Mr. Pudding (Neil).

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    1. I hope that the nice man who complimented me was not the only one who was touched.

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  10. Well, thank goodness you were singing. I'm surprised others didn't join in -- usually once one person breaks the ice the others feel more confident. You were in a particularly timid section! Or maybe the others were so impressed with your solo they didn't dare intrude upon it. In any case you evidently made the event for at least one person.

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    1. Perhaps they saw my bulging biceps and were afraid.

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  11. You've got a new career as a soloist! Great that you participated fully in the memorial.

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    1. Fly me over to Red Deer and I will deliver an intimate concert for you and The Micro Manager and neighbours from exclusive Spencer Street.

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  12. Given the church attendances now I'm not surprised few knew the words or the tune. A certain irony for you though. Mind you I would have joined you (despite the fact that I can no longer always find the register).

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    1. The registers are kept in the school office and I am pleased you noted the irony, remembering that I have been a non-believer since childhood. If there were a God how could he or she or it have possibly allowed World War One to happen?

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  13. Why didn't anyone else sing?

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    1. I really don't know Sue. I didn't ask them. I just know that when I started to sing I thought I would be just one voice amongst many.

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  14. What a lovely tribute. Well done for going solo!

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    1. I managed to hold it together right to the end. The fallen deserved that.

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    ReplyDelete

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