A New Songbook For Today’s Salvation Army
Almost 30 years after the last Salvation Army songbook was published, a new “user–friendly” edition is being released in the Army’s 150th year. The Song Book of The Salvation Army, which launches on July 2 (Founders’ Day) at the Boundless international congress, is intended to meet the needs of contemporary Salvation Army worship around the world.
“Music has always played an enormous role in the worship of God’s people,” General André Cox says. “It touches the soul in a unique way and can lift and inspire. God has gifted The Salvation Army with great poets who have a unique ability to express in words some of our deepest emotions, desires, devotion, and love for God, which many of us would struggle to do without their special talents. As well, The Song Book of The Salvation Army is a repository containing much of our doctrinal teaching, making it an essential tool for the development of our faith.”
Recognizing that the Army song book is no longer so widely used in some places, the General says “There is nothing wrong with using modern and new songs, but equally there is no reason to neglect the richness of what we have. It is sad when we no longer know or use some of our great songs that are taken up by other denominations. I think in a world of shifting values, our songbook is more than relevant in reaffirming our beliefs and nurturing our faith.”
Salvation Army songbooks have tended to be updated around every 25 years. The vision for the latest edition came from General Shaw Clifton, who convened a Song Book Council in 2009, a year before his retirement as the Army’s international leader. “Our songbook has come to mean a great deal to me through the years as a spiritual help and source of inspiration,” says Retired General Clifton. “I spoke with my predecessor [General John Larsson] before taking office and he agreed a new book was needed. I also discussed it at length with my closest and most senior advisers, and then sought feedback from throughout the Army world.”
Although the use of large screens to display congregational songs has changed the way the English language Song Book of The Salvation Army is used, the feedback received by International Headquarters was that this technology should not deprive The Salvation Army of a printed songbook.
For those counting the cost of upgrading to the new songbook, General Cox recommends it as a worthwhile investment. “Many people spend the equivalent cost of a songbook for a decent meal out, or for other forms of entertainment,” he says. “My parents purchased a copy of the 1986 songbook when I was a young officer serving in Zimbabwe. That copy has been with me for almost 30 years now and the pages are well turned, so I guess that was good value for money! And it certainly has been with me through some personally difficult times.”
by Major Christina Tyson
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