The Call of Christ – A Meditative Study For Brass Band
dedicated to Bernard Smith
Robert Getz

        This piece had its genesis in 1959. It was the 25th Anniversary of The Salvation Army Central Music Institute at Camp Lake, Wisconsin. The special guest that year was the music camp’s founder, Bernard Smith. All week the faculty and some students had urged Bernie to play a cornet solo, as he was a world-renowned artist in his younger years – once pursued by Sousa himself! All week Bernie demurred. However, during his conducting of the preliminary music for the Sunday morning worship service, he asked the flugel horn player if he might borrow his instrument. He gave the baton to the Music Director and provided a number in the SA tune book and proceeded to play a simple solo on the tune “Come Ye Disconsolate”. It brought this teen-ager to tears, and the memory of it almost does the same today, so beautiful was it. Since then I have wanted to do something as a worthy tribute to this great and most humble musical giant and friend. This piece is a start. The call of Christ was center-most for Bernie, is for me, and is the reason for this piece.

        As I finally commenced to write, another tune kept sticking its nose under my tent . . . “Jesus calls us! O-er the tumult”. I resisted until I finally saw that they were both saying the same thing in different ways and that my musical lexicon was enriched by their differences.

        My piece begins with the almost forlorn call from Jesus, heard as an unaccompanied baritone solo: “Come ye disconsolate . . .” This call echoes over the abyss of human arrogance, indifference and desolation manifest when the call of Jesus is ignored. Jesus now changes voice and is heard in the ethereal tones of bells suggesting “Jesus calls us . . . Jesus calls us . . .” After some human hesitation the song is heard from the middle voices of the band, ending in a flugel solo which leads to a reprise in the low brass overshadowed by angelic rising tones above.

        A fourteen bar episode breaks the mood and suggests human independence from The Lord, but its melody also subtly sets the stage for the presentation of “Come ye disconsolate”. The flugel arrests attention with a long lonely tone, reminiscent of the baritone at the beginning, and then resolves itself into the song. This is supported by long harmonically independent, low brass, diatonic chords. For the phrase “Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish” the trombones bring appropriate passion to the fore. The only four bars of full band scoring bring us the ebullient affirmation that “Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot cure!” The trombones remind us again of Christ’s call, and lead us to a reprise of the plaintive baritone invitation of the introduction. This time the bells don’t question, but rather affirm us safely into the Presence of The Lord. God bless you!
Bob Getz

NOTE:  I wrote this piece on Friday, September 9, 2005.  It is no accident that I wrote this as our people suffered devastating hurricane ravages in our Southern United States.  The desolation and suffering cannot be repaired in human terms, but only by answering the loving and healing call of Christ.   God bless you!   Click here for reference recording

        These were the verses I was mindful of when writing this piece.   To ensure the greatest blessing I urge all conductors to make all audiences aware of them.

    Jesus calls us! O’er the tumult
       Of our life’s wild, restless sea,
    Day by day His sweet voice soundeth,
       Saying: Christian, follow me.

    Jesus calls us! By Thy mercies,
       Savior, may we hear Thy call,
    Give our hearts to Thy obedience,
       Serve and love Thee best of all.

Cecil Frances Alexander


Come ye disconsolate, where’er ye languish,
    Come to the mercy seat fervently kneel; 
Here bring your wounded hearts,
    Here tell your anguish,
Earth hath no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal.

Joy of the desolate, light of the straying,
    Hope for the penitent, advocate sure;
Here speaks our Comforter, tenderly saying,
    Earth hath no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal.

Here waits the Savior, gentle and loving,
    Ready to meet you, His grace to reveal:
On Him your burden cast, trustfully coming:
   Earth hath no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal.
                                                                                Thomas Moore

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