Saturday, February 19, 2011

Amazing Grace: Corps of Signals Pipes and Drum

A photograph of the Bagpipers playing the tune Amazing Grace (Hymn), who form part of Corps of Signals Pipes and Drum, during Centenary Celebrations at Jabalpur on 14 Feb 2011

Corps of Signals Indian Army celebrated its Centenary at Jabalpur, where No. 1 Signal Training Center is located, from 13-15 Feb 2011 in a very beffiting manner.
One of the soul stirring and inspiring event was a Band Concert after dark in the Gowrishankar Parade Ground (named after one of our illustrious Signals general, who earned a Maha Vir Chakra-a very high gallantry award while commanding a brigade in Dera Baba Nanalk Sector, in Punjab, during 1971 War with Pakistan).
A poignant item in the Band Concert was playing of the Hymn 'AMAZING GRACE' by nearly thirty Corps of Signals Bagpipers. They came marching in slow time in two columns well separated by a large screen, each column lit by soft blue light, playing beautifully the haunting tune of the Hymn. As they came nearer, the sound of the bagpipes gradually increasing.
The Pipers formed up in two rows in front of the audience continued to play the tune and then slowly returned the way they had come; the sound fading away in the semi darkness and leaving everyone spell bound and may be with some moist eyes as well!!
A recorded version of the same tune played by US Marine Bagpipers can be seen and heard on this video below:

The Corps of Signals Pipers played absolutely in the same manner and I feel even better, except that the setting was more serene and stirring, being in the quietness of night under subdued light!

"Amazing Grace" is a Hymn written by English poet John Newton in 1973 and published in 1779.
Newton wrote the words from personal experience. He joined the Royal Navy and became a sailor, eventually participating in the slave trade. One night a terrible storm battered his vessel so severely that he became frightened enough to call out to God for mercy. After a few years he quit going to sea altogether and began studying theology.
Ordained in the Church in 1764, Newton began to write hymns with poet William Cower. "Amazing Grace" was written to illustrate a sermon on New Year's Day of 1773.
Gradually it was sung in Churches and congregations and over time set to many types of music. However, perhaps it sounds the best when played by Bagpipers.
Each Regiment and infantry battalion in the Indian Army has a Pipes and Drum Band. Corps of Signals has two such bands, one located with each of its two Signal Training Centers.
All Praise for Brig SK Pillai, Commandant 1 STC and his Team for masterminding and showcasing such amazing events, which make the Corps of yesterday and today so proud.
Harbhajan Singh
Lt Gen
Former Signal Officer-in-Chief and Senior Colonel Commandant

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