Westminster Brass

A Brass Quintet Performing for the Glory of God

by James W. Hala February 28, 2019

In celebration of a ministry that has spanned forty-three years, Westminster Brass, in our final season, will present a “Concert of Thanksgiving” at Tenth Presbyterian Church on Saturday, March 30, 2019, at 2:00 PM. We are truly thankful for God’s blessing on our ministry these many years and for all of the friends and acquaintances we have made during our time together. It is out of our affection for God and his people that we present this concert.

Our name, Westminster Brass, is not taken from the Abbey in the borough of London, nor the seminary where two of the members of the quintet attended and later taught, but is an affirmation of what we believe as found in the Westminster Confession of Faith.

Westminster Brass is “a brass quintet performing for the glory of God.” What could have moved a group of young men to make such a bold statement early in their lives? To answer this question you need to know that we, in those early years, were just out of college with degrees in music. God had further plans for all of us, though. The Holy Spirit called two of our members to full-time ministry as pastors, another to teach as a theologian, and two more to be called to the office of ruling elder in the church. The Holy Spirit continued to move through the ensemble, directing our paths and teaching us not only through colleges, universities, conservatories, and seminaries, but also through the men who were the featured speakers during the conferences of Ligonier Ministries and the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology. We had “box seats,” so to speak, as we helped lead the worship portions of those conferences and shared the same platform as the speakers. What better teachers to have than Eric Alexander, James Montgomery Boice, John Gerstner, James I. Packer, R.C. Sproul, Ravi Zacharias, Robert Godfrey, Sinclair Ferguson, and other well-known speakers and writers of the Reformed faith. We got to know some, if not most, of these men of the gospel. We may not have realized it, but upon reflection we were being discipled by them: hearing the Word of God and spending time in fellowship, watching and learning from their actions both on the platform and during the “off hours” of the conferences.

It is during the worship portions of conferences and the participation in hundreds of worship services that, in every instance, it is clear God has given Westminster Brass the mandate to perform for his glory alone. This is one of the Reformation’s five Solas—Soli Deo Gloria.  What better way to glorify God than to perform hymns and sacred songs and accompany his people singing praises to the one, holy, triune God. We, who are members of Tenth, are privileged to not only hear the truths of the gospel expounded from the pulpit but to hear the doctrines of our salvation being proclaimed through the great hymns of our faith.

Christ has called the members of Westminster Brass to be his disciples. In my own life, Christ called me to himself, working through the members of Westminster Brass, Dr. Boice and his family, and through the person who later became my wife. I left my father and mother not only for marriage but to be a disciple of Christ.

The members of Westminster Brass have shared life’s blessings and heartaches with one another. We are a fellowship of like-minded believers who have shared the gospel with our colleagues in music, some even making a profession of faith and coming to know Christ as their personal Savior. It has been our hope that God will use us as his disciples through this witness for Christ.

One of the greatest compliments that our group has ever received came after we performed a concert of sacred music, proclaiming the gospel through word and music. It was natural for us to express our faith through the verbal program notes of each piece and through the beauty, solemnity, power, and joy of the performance. On the way to my car I asked the venue director if he heard any feedback about the concert. He almost apologetically said that some of the audience members thought it was “different.” Knowing the venue and the groups and individuals who usually speak and perform, I was glad to hear that we were different. We are to set ourselves apart, boasting only in the Lord.

Our hope is that throughout these past forty-three years we have both glorified God and, as a disciple of Christ, proclaimed the saving power of Jesus with conviction.