The Salvation Army’s International Staff Band (ISB) celebrated 120 years of mission and ministry in London, U.K., with a weekend of spectacular events featuring eight Salvation Army staff bands from around the world.
The celebrations, which included a sold-out concert in the prestigious Royal Albert Hall on Saturday, June 4, concluded the following day with a march of witness down the Mall (which only a few weeks before had been the scene of the procession after the royal wedding) and a programme of music at Buckingham Palace before the General took the salute as the bands marched away.
Salvationists, friends and tourists braved inclement weather to watch the eight bands – International, Amsterdam, Canadian, Chicago, German, Japan, Melbourne and New York Staff Bands – march and then play a concert in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace – a privilege rarely granted by Her Majesty the Queen. Several thousand people lined the Mall, cheering and applauding the bands’ progress, some even singing along with familiar tunes.
After the brief programme on the Palace forecourt each band marched away, with General Linda Bond taking the salute.
Earlier in the day, the General joined the U.K. Territory with the Republic of Ireland’s senior leaders to support music leaders at their councils at Westminster Central Hall. The International Staff Songsters and Territorial Youth Band provided musical support, with members of the visiting staff bands also in attendance.
Japan Staff Bandmaster Hajime Suzuki testified and also thanked Salvationists for their prayers and support for his country after the recent devastating earthquake and tsunami. He told those attending that he came to the Lord from a non-Christian family through music, having been introduced to Salvation Army music as a student by his professor. He explained how, during a period of ill-health, his faith had been tested and strengthened, and he said he praises God for his restoration.
Following the sensitive playing by the youth band of ‘People Need The Lord’ the General shared how God in love can transform those who fail him. A song from the staff songsters initiated a period of reflection, prayer and response and a number of mercy seat commitments were made.
The previous day, the staff bands each presented a 20-minute concert at the Royal Albert Hall, introducing themselves to concert-goers and playing from their repertoire.
In the evening, some 5,000 ticketholders returned for a massed bands festival – among them the General, the Chief of the Staff (Commissioner Barry C. Swanson) and Commissioner Sue Swanson (World President of Women’s Ministries), territorial leaders Commissioners John and Betty Matear, Chief Secretary Colonel Brian Peddle and Colonel Rosalie Peddle, General John Larsson (Retired) and Commissioner Freda Larsson.
The visiting bands made a triumphal entry from around the hall, behind their Salvation Army and national flags, to the playing by the ISB of ‘Emblem Of The Army’. ISB Executive Officer Lieut-Colonel David Hinton opened the evening with prayer before International Staff Bandmaster Dr Stephen Cobb welcomed the international and territorial leaders, and gave a particularly warm welcome to former ISB members and leaders.
Each staff bandmaster took the baton to lead the massed bands and the ISS enhanced the evening with two contributions.
After a simple drumhead was erected on stage, Territorial Commander Commissioner John Matear reminded the audience of The Salvation Army’s dedication to the task God has set it. Taking words from 1 Corinthians, he emphasised that the war The Salvation Army is committed to is one of peace and righteousness.
The evening concluded with the festival march ‘Celebration’ – a fitting conclusion to a day of celebration. As fireworks went off and a large Salvation Army flag descended from above the stage, the bands sang out: ‘We’ll keep the old flag flying, flying round the world’.
Compiled from various reports from the UK Territory with the Republic of Ireland.
More detailed reports of the various events from the ISB120 celebrations will appear in the UK publication ‘Salvationist’ and will be made available through the UK website: www.salvationarmy.org.uk
A special 30-minute programme about the celebrations will be broadcast on Wednesday, June 8 at 9.30 p.m. British Summer Time (GMT+1) on BBC Radio 2’s ‘Listen to the Band‘. The programme will be streamed online and will be made available for seven days (check website for details and restrictions).