Army Jargon

Fire A Volley

“Praise the Lord!” “Amen!” “Hallelujah!” 

These congregational shouts can warm a preacher’s heart. Indeed, they may even be solicited with a coaxing, “Fire A Volley!” The concept touches on military imagery while the words Hallelujah and Amen are universal.

 – “Praise the Lord” is a Hebrew phrase, used almost exclusively
in the Old Testament.
– “Amen” is spread evenly throughout Scripture, and is the last word in the Bible.
 – “Hallelujah,” interchangeable with “Praise the Lord,” is only used four times in the NIV Bible. Remarkably, all instances are found in Revelation 19.

This back–and–forth pedigree is biblical, consistently present in the choreographed and antiphonal responses of God’s people in worship. Through the centuries, this interplay has evolved into a recognized art form, “call and response,” present in jazz, high liturgy, and in African–American preaching.

“Can I get an Amen?”

In The Salvation Army, the custom reflects both our formation in rowdy revival and our music hall heritage. Here, working–class audiences were expected to exuberantly participate in the performance, for good or ill. Raucous, boisterous, even bawdy attendees interreacted with the actors, comedians, and dancers throughout, with the master of ceremonies actively goading and prodding, down to a fine art.

“Is anyone in the house tonight?”

Brengle warns against artificial response as “all noise,” but then adds, at the end of time, “The Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout” (1 Thess. 4).

The final volley.

Colonel Richard Munn

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