“Visionary, groundbreaking and courageous. It was back in the days when guitars in church, let alone music with a beat, were for many a definite no-no. But there, in the forefront of Christian evangelism, even with a track in the secular charts, were The Salvation Army's Joystrings, proving that the devil certainly didn't have all the good music.”

—Sir Cliff Richard

Book cover of The JoystringsWhen the Joystrings burst on the music scene 50 years ago, they were revolutionary. This unique, God-directed pop group was the result of a comment made by General Frederick Coutts in 1963 at his first press conference following his election: “It would be possible to take the gospel message to coffee bars with electric guitars if these proved to be an effective method.” When, after hearing this, the press wanted to meet such a group, several cadets were quickly gathered together.

The amazing story of what happened next is chronicled in The Joystrings, a new book by Lt-Colonel Sylvia Dalziel, a member of the Joystrings. Most of the group were members of the Proclaimers of the Faith Session and, following their commissioning in 1965, were appointed to the group for their initial years of service as officers. With their unique musical talents and desire to be an effective witness—combined with the initiative of Commissioner Clarence Wiseman, then training principal of the International Training College—the Joystrings took the world by storm, bringing the gospel to places where it had never been heard before.

The Joystrings perform on a street in London, England The Joystrings perform in London, England

In The Joystrings, Lt-Colonel Dalziel recounts the five-year history of the group, which included making recordings that hit the pop charts, appearing on television, meeting Queen Elizabeth II and travelling around Europe on whirlwind tours. The final chapter of the book comes from singer-songwriter Major Joy Webb, Order of the Founder, who was the multi-talented leader of the group.

This innovative ministry did not meet with universal Salvation Army approval, but the group had courage in its convictions and the blessing of the General. As a result of their ministry, many people became Christians and committed their lives to the ministry of the gospel (some of their testimonies are recorded in The Joystrings).

This coffee-table book has an attractive layout and contains many eye-catching photographs. The reader is left with no doubt that the group was a “God initiative,” not only enthralling hundreds of people, but also changing many lives. The Joystrings is a must read for people of all ages.

Colonel Gwenyth Redhead is a retired officer living in Orillia, Ont. Commissioned in the United Kingdom in 1965, she was a sessionmate of several members of the Joystrings.


On Wednesday, January 15, 2014, Diane Manifold said:

My parents got me the book for Christmas and I am really enjoying it. I sometimes wish the Army is still like that reach out to people who do not go to church. I love the joy strings very much. May we all go and testify to the world that cares and understands there needs.
May the Lord continue to work through people like the Joy Strings

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