Vincent Daniel’s Legacy

VINCENT DANIEL’S LEGACY

Mr Vincent Daniel lives comfortably in a quiet and attractive suburb of Banting with Mercy, his wife of 50 years. He retired in 1983 as the Principal of the Banting Methodist School.

Today, Mr Daniel is best remembered by the early cohorts of ACS old boys as the teacher who wrote The Ipoh ACS Song.  The later cohorts are less likely to remember this crucial figure in The School’s long and illustrious history, which this write-up serves also to address.

ACS Ipoh received him in 1947 when, as an 18 year-old, he gained admission into what is now Form 5.  In class, he was young for his age. His contemporaries were normally boys a few years older who, sadly, had their earlier education rudely interrupted by the Imperial Japanese Army.

Music seems to come naturally to the Daniel family.  Vincent’s father, a Methodist pastor was into church music; his mother, a teacher, was involved with music at school. Between them they provided exactly the kind of environment where the young Vincent’s love of music was nurtured. But it was to be in Kuala Lumpur, during the war years, that the young Vincent was to be formally tutored.  And to Mrs Kandiah, organist and choir leader at the Tamil Methodist Church, Mr Daniel remains indebted to this day. So by the time of his arrival in Ipoh, Vincent had matured musically and The ACS Ipoh was set to reap the reward later that year.

Sometime in late 1947, Mr Daniel remembers having being taken by surprise when charged by then ACS Principal, Rev Ho Seng Ong, with bringing a commemoration song to the School’s Golden Jubilee Celebrations – an event meant for 1945 but deferred till 24th October 1947 in the wake of the war. He surmised that it was likely to be his music and drama talents that had brought him to the early notice of Mrs Ho.  The Principal’s wife, then the teacher in charge of music, was sufficiently impressed to subsequently recommend Vincent to her husband.

Quickly, the then 18 year old chose one from his repertoire that had caught his fancy. Words to song were just as quickly crafted. The fateful choice was to be a tune a much younger Vincent had learnt in Singapore as a member of the Life Boy, a junior element of the Boy’s Brigade. It was catchy and it fitted well with the mood of celebration.

That was why the tune of “Brigade Boy” was chosen as the Golden Jubilee song and it became an instant hit.  The lyrics were admirably adapted to reflect our situation in Ipoh and, more importantly, our aspirations.

“Back in 1883 wondering what it was to be, 30 boys came on parade”

was turned into

  “Not so very long ago only 50 years or so, Horley dauntless hero came”

A successful tune needs to be offered a description, and there is none to date. Mr. Chin Yoong Kim offers his take in this manner: ‘very catchy and rousing………a very suitable rhythmic structure with a brisk, but not hurried tempo.” The rest of us less musically informed are just as likely to say “bloody good”. Both sets of description convey the same fond attachment.

The song took the school by storm no doubt. But what is truly amazing is in its endurance.  It has turned from one designed with a limited life span to what it has become; another which has assumed a life entirely of its own and continuing for as long as the ACS Ipoh shall exist. What has also helped is perhaps found in the lyrics. They are essentially secular in content, and somewhat nationalistic in mood.  Together they provide important safeguards to enable the song escape the misfortunes befallen on the school’s name and of its badge.

The song is now deeply embedded into the finest of ACS Ipoh traditions. As a school anthem, it is difficult to better. This is Mr Daniel’s lasting gift to the ACS Ipoh.

Thank you, Mr Vincent Daniel.

(Addendum: Mr Daniel was appointed teacher in our alma mater in 1948. He continued teaching in Ipoh until 1957, first as normal trained and later as a graduate teacher.  In 1954 he had accepted a scholarship to Illinois Wesleyan University to pursue a degree in English and Music.  Soon upon his return from the United States, he was offered the position of Principal in the newly established Methodist School in Banting. He remained there until his retirement in 1983.  He and Mercy are still actively involved in local Church activities. They continue to take pleasure in meeting and re-connecting with their old students, both from Ipoh and Banting.

The Daniels have a daughter, Sharon who holds a law degree of Leeds University. Sharon practised law in Kuala Lumpur before taking up a coveted job at the UNHCR.  She is very interested in the subject of people movement and obtained a Master’s on this subject from George Washington University. She now works for the US Government in Washington. Married to James Boyd, a financial consultant at the World Bank, they have 4 year old Daniel whom the grandparents dote on long distance.)

Chew Beng Hian

(Cohort: 1965 Form 6 Upper Arts A)