A FANFARE celebrating the “dignity and life” of older people, and a new hymn written for people with dementia, have been commissioned by the Methodist charity MHA to mark its 75th anniversary.
The fanfare has been composed by the organist Nigel Ogden, a former presenter on Radio 2, and will be given its première tomorrow at a service of thanksgiving in Derby Cathedral.
The chief executive of MHA, Sam Monaghan, explained: “The famous Fanfare for the Common Man was composed by Aaron Copland in 1943: the same year that MHA was founded by members of the Methodist Church. It seemed fitting that we marked our anniversary with a Fanfare for the Older Person, to celebrate all that is joyful about later life and the experiences it brings us — and we were delighted that Nigel took on the challenge.”
Mr Ogden said of the style of his composition: “I decided on a bright, celebratory fanfare to start things off. The following section — processional — has a more reflective quality which I hope will musically depict . . . a sense of dignity. The more forceful repeat of this section of the piece seeks to combine the dignity and the celebration of both MHA, and of life.”
MHA (formerly known as Methodist Homes for the Aged) provides long-term care, support, and accommodation for more than 18,500 older people across the UK. The charity has more than 7000 employees, 5000 volunteers, 72 retirement-living schemes, and 61 live-at-home schemes.
Its 90th care home, Montpellier Manor, in Middlesbrough, was opened earlier this year.
Mr Ogden plays a weekly organ recital for the residents at the MHA care home Starr Hills, in Lytham St Annes, and helps at the weekly service. He said on Tuesday: “For a fairly short time, a few years ago, my mother was a resident at MHA Starr Hills care home.
“Since then, I have had the joy of being a volunteer there, playing a weekly short recital, and accompanying the short weekly service. I use the word ‘joy’ because it genuinely is a sheer delight to have these opportunities to spend time with wonderful people who are friendly, warm, welcoming, and full of gratitude.
“Their bodies may be letting them know they’re getting on a bit, but their minds are sharp, full of fun, and a constant source of stories from their lives, which never cease to amaze.”
A new hymn, “Remember me, O living one”, has been written for the occasion by the MHA Regional Chaplain at Auchlochan Garden Village, the Revd Cliff Jackson. The tune, a traditional four-part harmony, was written by David Wells, who lives at Auchlochan. One verse reads:
When muddled word and clouded brain
make strangers of my family,
remind me of my worth again
in worship and community.
Mr Jackson said: “The spiritual feelings of persons living with dementia often remain hidden from those around them . . . but they ring out loud and clear in the sacred space where God hears the echoes of our hearts. In writing this hymn, I wanted to express that . . . God finds our love and devotion more eloquent than mere words.”
Mr Wells said that he was “immediately struck by the sincerity and compassion” of the words. “The music needed to enhance the words: to be straightforward, suitable to be sung by congregations of all ages, not flamboyant but reinforcing and complementing the sentiments expressed by the verses.”
MHAA Methodist care home in the late 1940s
The President of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Michaela A. Youngson, will preach at the service of thanksgiving for MHA, which will include a celebration of the lives of former residents, staff, and volunteers. Other hymns include “Love divine, all loves excelling”, and “Praise, my soul, the King of heaven”.
The service will be led by the director of chaplaincy and spirituality at MHA, the Revd Dr Chris Swift. About 300 guests are expected, including the Lord-Lieutenant of Derbyshire, Willie Tucker, and current residents. They will be welcomed by the Sub Dean and Canon Missioner of Derby Cathedral, Dr Elizabeth Thomson.
Visit www.mha.org.uk/75years for tickets and details.