Last updated:  23 Mar 09

School Concert, 5th July 1967

Click for a larger version (95KB)

(Andrew Goodwin was Organist of Bangor Cathedral 1972-2009. Aled Jones was once a member of his choir.)

I recall my mother “telling Mr Lees off” after the concert for having coins jingling in his pocket while he was conducting!

Source unknown, but probably the West Bromwich News.)

Well over 100 music lovers took the opportunity of hearing Handel’s church music played and sung in a church last Wednesday. The occasion was the third concert given by the Wednesbury Boys’ High School choir at St Bartholomew’s Church.

The first item sung by the boys – who were accompanied by an orchestra made up of  West Bromwich teachers, pupils, and members of West Bromwich Youth Orchestra – was Zadok the Priest. This stirring piece of music was later repeated, to the obvious enjoyment of all present.

The choir then went on to sing Rejoice in the Lord alway by Purcell, and another coronation anthem by Handel, The King shall rejoice.

In the middle of the concert, Handel’s Organ Concerto in F major was played by 19 years-old Andrew Goodwin, a pupil of Wolverhampton Grammar School.

Mr Timothy Lees, the conductor and music teacher at the High School, told the “News” that Andrew had been called in at the last moment after Mr David Johnston, an organist from Derby, fell ill. “He has really made a wonderful job of what must be his biggest concert engagement, and we are very grateful to him, as we are to the other instrumentalists who have taken part,” he said. “It is not often that a school choir has the chance of singing with an orchestra capable of playing such difficult music.”

The Rev G Owen, Vicar of Wednesbury, said he was very  pleased that the boys – who have previously performed Messiah and Mozart’s Requiem in the church – had come along to give another concert. “I welcome the opportunity of the visit by the school, and I hope the close contact between church and school will be kept up,” he added.

The School Song and School Hymn

Words written by art master, Alan Legge, with music by headmaster, Edgar Witcombe and music master, B S Smyth, the school song was first used in the late fifties. It waslast used at Speech Day 1969, after a petition (organised by yours truly) re-instated it to its rightful place for a final performance, despite the new management of Wood Green High School wanting to drop it from the proceedings!

No-one was ever able to offer me a reasonable translation of the school motto, Arte, Marte, Vigore, but this did not prevent its being sung “with vigour” whenever it was rolled out! This Latin phrase was also the motto of Wednesbury – as proved by this recent shot of the Art Gallery gable in Holyhead Road:


Roger Best tells me he was taught that the motto translated to By Skill, By Iron, By Energy. John Yarnall recalls, “I was there for the first performances, which were introduced to us in Assembly by Edgar Witcombe, shortly after his arrival, as part of his campaign to modernise the school post-Kipping. We were all given copies of the words and made to sing through them by way of practice for speech days, and solemn occasions, etc. As part of his introduction to the new works, Witcombe gave us his translation of the motto. Not very imaginative, but simply Skill, Strength, and Vigour.”

Although I have audio recordings of both the Hymn and Song, my free WordPress account does not allow me to provide music files for download. If anyone would like to have an MP3 copy of these, please contact me and I will send them by email.

Click for a scanned copy of the handwritten music  (72KB)
Click for Capella copy of the music  (39KB)

Inspire us, Lord, that we may tread
They way, not turn aside,
To seek some easier path, misled
By greed, or sloth, or pride.

Guide us by fearless love of truth
In all our conflicts here;
Help us to fit ourselves in youth
For manhood’s sterner sphere.

Instill in us the will to serve
At school, at home, abroad;
To work and play without reserve,
To seek not vain reward.

Lead us by knowledge of the word,
With heart and hand and soul;
Out tasks, fulfilled, ambitions spurred,
To realise our goal.

Click for scanned copy of the handwritten music  (98KB)
Click for Capella copy of music  (75KB)

Come raise a song – a paean of praise
To Wednesbury’s seat of learning,
Where we devote our salad days
To wisdom – all discerning.

Arte, Marte, Vigore,
Arte, Marte, Vigore,
Arte, Marte, Vigore,
We’re Wodens all aspiring.

We struggle hard with verbs obscure,
Irregular, deponent;
With Maths applied, or maybe pure,
With chemical component.

We map each mountain, river, plain,
Our minds with contours graven,
And Europe’s past we live again
With rulers good and craven.

We cultivate the written word,
Declaim in tones resounding,
We learn that facts may be inferred
From philosophic grounding.

In sun we toil on court or pitch –
In rain, when bud bespatters;
On field or track, o’er fence, thro’ ditch
We strive – that’s all that matters.

So raise a song – a paean of praise
To Wednesbury’s seat of learning.
Long may she thrive in all her ways,
New laurels ever earning.

With thanks to Les Gutteridge for creating the more legible, Capella versions of the music.

Those with a musical talent, wishing to wallow in further nostalgia, may wish to re-live the music. Careful examination of the (hand-written) music will reveal, in the first introductory bar, the acciacatura C# which was first performed by music master, Timothy Lees, by accident (?), and became traditional thereafter!

The school hymn was also written by the Legge/Smyth partnership, and was used at the first and last assemblies of each term, as well as at Speech Day and the Commemoration Service.

By the way, here’s a copy of that petition (87KB) , I mentioned earlier.

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