Amazing Grace - 17 Feb 21

The obituary of Pipe Major Tony Crease who died on January 4th 2021 has recently been published in the Daily Telegraph.  It recalls to the wonderful occasion when in 1972 Pipe Major Crease led the Pipes and Drums and Military Band of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards in a rendition of the music that normally accompanies John Newton's hymn “Amazing Grace.”

The obituary states that: "Major Tony Crease, who has died aged 74, led the Pipes & Drums of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards as Pipe Major to the top of the hit parade with the band’s rendition of Amazing Grace.

In 1971, the Royal Scots Greys amalgamated with the 3rd Carabiniers and their bands came together to prepare for the Amalgamation Parade. In a project inspired by Crease, a recording took place for new regimental music. It included an arrangement by the Greys’ bandmaster, Stuart Fairbairn, of the hymn Amazing Grace.

Crease played the solo part, and the following year it was played on BBC Radio. It caught the national mood, and spent six weeks at No 1. International sales topped 11 million copies and The Pipes & Drums were awarded a gold disc.

Under Pipe Major Crease’s leadership, the chart-topping hymn brought bagpipe music to a wide audience. The Pipes and Drums became famous. They toured Europe, America, Australia and New Zealand, played in front of celebrities, made more recordings and were awarded several more gold discs.

Crease also ensured that his soldiers were fully operational tank crewmen, and during two tours in Northern Ireland they gave invaluable service working in an infantry role. In 1977 he took the Pipes and Drums to the coveted Grade 1 Status at the World Pipe Band Championships, and he was awarded the British Empire Medal.

After returning to regimental duties he was responsible for the motor transport troop before taking over as a squadron sergeant major and subsequently regimental sergeant major. In 1984 he was commissioned, and progressed from assistant adjutant to quartermaster. He was appointed MBE in 1999.

It is to be hoped that the rather lovely rendering directed many to the words of John Newton which you may enjoy reflecting on while the listening to the Pipes and Drums.

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found;

Was blind but now I see.

Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,

And grace my fears relieved;

How precious did that grace appear

The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares,

I have already come;

’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,

And grace will lead me home.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,

And mortal life shall cease,

I shall possess, within the veil,

A life of joy and peace.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,

Bright shining as the sun,

We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise

Than when we’d first begun.

It is to be hoped that the some many millions of listeners and Pipe Major Crease himself embraced the great truths concerning God’s Salvation contained in the words of the hymn.


© Douglas Carr 2021