Battle Call (2001)

Duration: approx. 7:30

Battle Call was my first attempt at a more substantial work for brass band.  

In my first year as a cadet at William Booth College, inspired by a church history lesson one day, I decided I would take closer look at Martin Luther's reformation hymn 'Ein Feste Berg.  This piece is the result. 

There are no shortage of SA brass band settings on this great tune.  At the time of writing, the definitive study must surely be Lt - Col. Dr Ray Steadman-Allen's Tone Poem The Holy War (FS 298, publ. 1966).

Robert Redhead has penned an attractive  Prelude on 'Ein Feste Berg (publ. 1994) for the American Instrumental Ensemble Series, and more recently we have seen Steven Ponsford's well-worked Turris Fortissima (JSC 647, publ. 2009) and Andrew Mackereth's 'Ein Feste Berg (GS 2096, publ. 2011) - a contemporary take on the tune and a fine arrangement at that. 

 Computer generated track

WAV Battle Call3.mp3

 Sample score pages
(right-click to download or 
open in a new window)  

Battle Call3 p1-2.pdf Battle Call3 p1-2.pdf
Size : 101.461 Kb
Type : pdf

Whilst at college, Leanne and I were blessed to have the pledged prayer support and encouragement of Stephen Cobb and the Music Department team, and during that time Steve faithfully put more or less every piece I wrote during that time on the stands of the ISB - and I wrote a lot whilst in college. 

Subsequently I was thrilled that the band came to the college for a music evening and played Battle Call - I was able to hear it live!  I recall that the executive officer of the band, Major Ian Barr - a gifted scholar and also a hilarious comedian - introduced the piece in his own inimitable way, quoting Latin at length! It was a great performance by the band, too.

Since then the piece has fallen off the radar a bit. Though I'm most grateful to North York Temple Band, Toronto for giving it airtime and recording it in 2012 - thanks guys. Maybe the piece will live after all...

Programme note
It could be said that 'Ein Feste Berg was the ‘battle call’ for the Protestant Reformation. 

Inspired by Psalm 46, the hymn was written during a conflict in Luther's struggle against the Roman Catholic Church; it was his confident expression of victory in that crisis. 

Battle Call seeks to explore Luther’s conflict with the Church and the spirit of the protestant reformation. The hymn is indeed a confident expression of victory – not just for Luther but for Christians throughout the ages.

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; 
Our helper He amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing. 
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe; 
His craft and pow'r are great, and, armed with cruel hate, 
On earth is not his equal.

Martin Luther (1483-1546) 

trs Frederick Henry Hedge (1805-90)
SA Songbook 1 (Tune: Ein 'Feste Burg TB 640)

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