Music Sunday: One time, at band camp…..

Joy! Joy! Joy! there is joy in The Salvation Army

Joy! Joy! Joy! in the Army of the Lord.

Sing to God, sing to God, with loud joyful songs of praise!

Beat the drums, beat the drums, while salvation music plays.

Play the music, play, sing a happy song,

Loud hosannas shout with the happy throng.

To the happy land we’ll march along,

And the joyful all the way.

– William James Pearson

The Salvation Army Songbook #807

My love of music was birthed at home, my music education birthed in The Salvation Army. I’ve blogged about the rich musical history of the Salvation Army. But I haven’t talked about the rich music programs offered today. Many local units have ongoing music instruction but the highlight each year are the music camp programs.

There are Salvation Army music camps held all over the country every summer. I attended my first music camp in Oklahoma at the Salvation Army’s Camp Heart ‘O Hills. My dad attended the same camp as a kid. He’d even left his mark in a few cabins as so many names were scrawled all over the cabin walls. (Too bad we didn’t have digital cameras in those days!)

There was plenty of music instruction but the evenings held traditional camp fun with skits, camp songs and vespers at the cross.

A more traditional Salvation Army band
Today's band

These days most regions have music conservatories lasting two and three weeks where more intense studies are done with weekend outings to visit nearby Salvation Army units giving the young musicians an opportunity to perform.

Today instruction includes more than brass instruments

There are many people who connect music with the SA. I received a call during Christmas season one year from someone in the community wanting to know if our band could go play Christmas carols somewhere. We didn’t have a band. When I told them this they seemed taken aback assuming we all had bands. I guess they also assumed the band members were sitting around just waiting for a phone call to go play somewhere 😉

There is that iconic image of a Salvation Army band playing around a red kettle at Christmas. I’m glad to say we are so much more. Here’s a funny video illustrating that.

(computer issues; if link doesn’t work check out Mr. Bean conducts Salvation Army band on YouTube)

My kids both had the opportunity to go to Jamaica with the Florida Youth Band. More than that, they have benefitted from the music education. That extra language they can now speak and understand.

I haven’t picked up my horn in years. My choice. But I have no regrets for all I’ve learned. It has only added to my appreciation of music and my understanding of how God uses it in the lives of so many.


  1. Heidi said:

    No wonder music speaks to you! I had no idea about he history of your organization. Thank you for letting us in on it!

    August 7, 2011
    • Debby said:

      We’re full of surprises, Heidi! Glad you’re enjoying it.

      August 7, 2011
  2. Debbie said:

    The gift of music is such a wonderful one to pass on. How wonderful that the Salvation Army is doing that! Do you know the song The High School Band by Andrew Osenga? I’m including a link but the quality isn’t great and may be hard with your computer issues (hope they’re resolved soon!).
    I love this song and your SA band history reminds me so much of it!


    There is a hill where the old men sit
    And watch the parade go by
    Every September’s third Saturday
    Before the game is played that night

    They watch as the children they dance
    The king and the queen holding hands
    They cover their hearts
    As the Stripes and the Stars
    Lead the way for the High School Band

    There’s Stanley the butcher
    Who closed his shop
    ‘Cause there’s a Kroger across town
    His wife, MaryAnn, the librarian
    Who was selling Avon now
    They lost their oldest to Vietnam
    Their youngest to go play drums
    And their Katie she stayed
    And she gave them their Amy
    Who was marching in the High School Band

    And the trumpets sing and the cymbals ring
    It’s good to hear young ones
    Playing the old songs
    Marching in the High School Band

    Frank used to pastor the Baptist church
    Before they tried to run him out
    He said “Jesus, the righteous one
    Threw no stones”
    So he wasn’t starting now
    When that trailer girl first showed up
    He’d said she needed a little love
    And he’d hold her black baby
    And pray for him daily
    Now he’s marching in the High School band

    And Michael Brown
    Who came to town in 1981
    To teach at the college his second wife
    Margaret attended before they split up
    Now he’s on number four
    And he’s tired and sore
    And figures their time has passed
    But it’s a beautiful day
    And he can get away
    When he’s listening to the High School Band

    And the trumpets sing and the cymbals ring
    It’s good to hear young ones
    Playing the old songs
    Marching in the High School Band

    August 8, 2011

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