Music and Song - Salvation Army Canada

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    Music and Song

    New Salvation Army song book to be released at Boundless Congress in July. May 25, 2015 by Major Christina Tyson
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    Almost 30 years after the last Salvation Army song book 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.”

    The General appreciates being able to leaf through the pages of his song book when he wants to put aside the pressures of the outside world. “I can assure you that I am not prone to singing aloud on my own during personal devotions, and neither can I claim to systematically use the song book every day in this respect,” he says. “But when I am reading Scripture, the words of a song will often come to mind, and I do like to look them up and reflect on those words.”

    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 song book is more than relevant in reaffirming our beliefs and nurturing our faith.”

    Salvation Army song books 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 song book has come to mean a great deal to me through the years as a spiritual help and source of inspiration,” says General Clifton (Rtd). “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 song book.

    The Band Tune Book of The Salvation Army The Band Tune Book of The Salvation Army

    Having decided to move ahead with the project, suggestions were then sought about which new songs to include. Not all the “new” songs were written recently; some are 50 or 60 years old. At the same time, the Song Book Council needed to decide which songs from the 1986 song book to omit. “Previous Generals had not hesitated to drop about one third of the content of a song book when planning for a new edition. Therefore, the Song Book Council felt able to be bold in a similar fashion,” General Clifton says. Work on the new edition, particularly song selection, was well under way when he handed oversight of this task to his successor.

    A key goal for the Song Book Council was to make the new edition as user-friendly as possible. This has seen the addition of new features, such as key Bible references above every song. An index to those references is included to further assist leaders in worship planning. In addition to piano and brass music for all songs, guitar chords are included for the first time, along with suggested introductions for every tune. Parts are provided in concert pitch and in the key of F, and some tunes have been brought down in pitch so they are easier to sing.

    The previous song book contained 962 songs and 251 choruses. The new edition has 1,041 songs but a separate chorus section is no longer included, as many modern compositions are not easily classified as “songs” or “choruses.” Songs in the previous edition were grouped into 12 major sections. The new song book has three main sections: “The Eternal God,” “Our Response to God” and “Benedictions,” with songs organized into categories and sub-categories of these sections.

    Four years ago, Lt-Colonel Trevor Davis was asked to accept the role of tune book co-ordinator on the Song Book Council. He has worked closely with Andrew Blyth, assistant territorial music director of the United Kingdom Territory with the Republic of Ireland, the music ministries unit of that territory and other musical arrangers. Their aim was to provide easier and more accessible accompaniments that assist congregations to worship God, and to ensure the musical settings did not detract from song lyrics.

    As well as his own musical background—which includes serving as territorial music secretary in New Zealand and as national bandmaster, head of music editorial and territorial music secretary in the United Kingdom—Lt-Colonel Davis has a deep personal appreciation of the song book. “I love hymnody of all kinds,” he says, “but I also believe the songs in our Salvation Army song book have provided me with an enhanced scriptural and doctrinal perception.” Although much of the progress technology has brought to corporate worship is helpful, he does mourn that the newer style of singing, with songs often appearing on screen line by line, means singers miss the richness of seeing the sequence of lyrical expression in adjoining verses.

    “I think the new song book represents who we are in The Salvation Army very well,” Lt-Colonel Davis says. “Naturally I, like everybody else, will have my own joys and disappointments about what is included. However, from the tune book side of things, the song book has been prepared by a group of competent people who have done this with integrity and skill, not to mention extreme dedication.”

    Andrew Blyth's contribution reflects his long association with Salvation Army music-making. He learned to play brass in a Salvation Army young people's band and to sing in the singing company. Andrew joined the music editorial department in the United Kingdom at 18, becoming a member of the International Staff Band the same year. “It was there that I learned harmony and started to compose music for The Salvation Army,” he says. Since then, Blyth has been the leader of the International Staff Songsters and Enfield Citadel Band. Currently, he serves as bandmaster at Peterborough Citadel in the United Kingdom Territory with the Republic of Ireland.

    “The Salvation Army is an integral part of my faith journey,” Blyth says. “The Army has supported me during the challenging times of my life, corrected me when I needed it and encouraged me in my everyday activities. Of course, its music appeals to me, but I have also seen the Army at work in areas of social need and during times of disaster.” All of this has given Blyth a respect for what The Salvation Army stands for—and an enthusiasm for seeing this reflected in the Army's music.

    He says that although a number of 1986 arrangements are used in the 2015 tune book, 200 new arrangements were still required, taking around two years to complete. The editing and proofing of the music was a mammoth task, with more than 20,000 separate parts to read. “There are some beautiful new melodies that will be appreciated by musicians,” he says. And although brass arrangements are provided for all songs, he cautions that some songs are not ideally suited to brass band accompaniment.

    For those counting the cost of upgrading to the new song book, General Cox recommends it as a worthwhile investment. “Many people spend the equivalent cost of a song book for a decent meal out, or for other forms of entertainment,” he says. “My parents purchased a copy of the 1986 song book 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.

    “Our song book contains songs that point us to the life of faith, inviting us to lift up our eyes and to embrace and rejoice fully in the realization that God is with us no matter what our circumstances or whatever challenges we face.”


    Song Book Frequently Asked Questions

    This information applies to the Canada and Bermuda Territory. Some details concerning the song book may differ in other territories.

    1. Is this song book significantly different from the previous version?
    Yes. There is a significant increase in the number of songs included in the new song book.

    2. Is there a list or index of the new songs?
    Click to download the official list of songs.

    3. When will I be able to receive my new song books?
    The new song book will not be available for purchase until after the 2015 Boundless international congress. We are therefore expecting delivery to the Supplies and Purchasing Department in mid- to late-August 2015 and will begin our distribution immediately following. There was a delay in the production of the North American version.

    4. Why has the new song book been delayed?
    There were a number of issues that delayed this project. Securing copyright permissions was one of the greatest sources of delay for this project and is, in part, why we have not been able to provide an official list of the songs that will be in the new song book.

    5. Why are you asking for an order so early if it is not being released in July and so few details are currently known?
    Preliminary orders for the tune books were placed in November, and preliminary orders for the words editions were submitted in January. Early ordering and pricing are now finished. The Supplies and Purchasing Department will continue to take orders for the mid-fall delivery at full price.

    6. Will an electronic version be available?
    We are able to confirm that International Headquarters (IHQ) has said that there will be an electronic version of the song book. At this point, we do not know in what form, how it will be distributed or the related costs. The electronic version will not be available at the same time as the hard copies and may take several months to be completed.

    7. Will the new song book be available in PowerPoint?
    We have been told that it will be, but we have no further details on this and do not know when or at what cost. As soon as we have further details, we will let everyone know.

    8. Is there going to be a North American version of the song book?
    Yes, and this is the version that we will be carrying. There will not be an American supplement or chorus section as these will now be included throughout the entire song book. Pricing for the song book has been updated.

    9. Why are there two piano tune books?
    There has been a significant increase in the number of songs included and this is reflected in the number of pages required for the tune book.

    10. New parts have been added to the musical accompaniment. Why?
    This will allow for the inclusion of other instruments in the worship experience as required.

    11. What is the deadline for placing my initial order?
    The initial deadlines were as follows: November 29, 2014, for tune books, and January 2, 2015, for songs books. The Supplies and Purchasing Department will continue to take orders for the second round of delivery in fall 2015.

    12. What is the currency on the form?
    The original form came from the United Kingdom, and the forms have been updated to remove all references to the British pound. The price is listed in Canadian dollars. If you are looking to make a bulk purchase, please contact the Supplies and Purchasing Department for a bulk order form.

    13. What will be books look like?
    Front cover images have been included in this article. Please note that the final product may be different from these images.

    14. Will there be a large-print version available?
    Yes. Pricing and order information have been included in an updated order form.

    15. Can I charge my new song book to my corps or ministry unit?
    No. Local ministry units are responsible for the cost of the song books they order for their use. Songs books for personal use are a personal cost.

    16. Will there be a Bible/song book combination?
    Yes, there will be hard-cover and soft-cover editions. We are currently waiting for information regarding what the North American version of the Bible/song book will be. Orders for a Bible/song book combination will be held and shipped once stock has been received from the United States. Please note that this product is currently delayed and no estimated shipping date is known.

    17. Do I have to order supplies for my ministry unit?
    A recent directive from the Chief Secretary's office has been received, stating, "Every ministry unit will be required to have one copy of the tune book and two copies of the song book for reference purposes."

    18. Who is responsible for the cost of the new song book?
    It is the local responsibility of each ministry unit to budget for the minimum cost of the new song book and tune book.

    19. Do divisional headquarters and territorial headquarters departments have to buy a song book?
    A recent directive from the Chief Secretary's office has been received, stating, "Every divisional headquarters and territorial headquarters department will be required to have one copy of the tune book and two copies of the song book for reference purposes."


    On Monday, August 22, 2016, Peter said:

    Is there tune books notes in PDF one can download?

    On Thursday, February 4, 2016, Roger Bunting said:

    I would much have preferred to keep the existing song/tune books, and to have issued the "new" Songs/Tunes as a third book. The cost would have been much less than renewing the whole new book, of particular benefit to those who are not well blessed financially, and I do not just mean the "Soldiery" but take note that many small corps may have difficulty in financing the "new", and in doing so we would have lost nothing - kept the old "boosted" by the new, not replacing songs that have meant much to so many and we would have achieved the same end - of adding the "New".
    Market Rasen

    On Tuesday, January 26, 2016, Idongesit Abakada said:

    Good development...

    On Sunday, January 24, 2016, Lister Pilingana said:

    How can I access the new song book ? It's a very good development I can't just Wait

    On Friday, January 15, 2016, Aniekan Joseph said:

    Am so happy for such development may God raised up the standard of the army to a greater level. please we want it to be in circulation for us to have it all territories.

    On Tuesday, November 17, 2015, Jon Griffin said:

    One would think that to get to a print production form, the original songbook text would have been available in (at least) a Word format document. If this were made available as the electronic form now, Tech Ministries people would be able to import the new songbook into any of the popular projection systems in use. We do not use EasyWorship anymore opting for ProPresenter 6 as many Corps use in Australia. Our Corps is now starting to use the New Songbook Songs in our meetings. It has been confusing for our volunteers lately. Any indication of a time frame for an electronic version?

    On Tuesday, August 25, 2015, Matt said:

    Hi there,
    Will you be supplying this in the SongPro 5 format so that we can import it?

    Kind regards

    On Sunday, August 23, 2015, Jodie said:

    Where in Australia can I buy the new songbook

    On Friday, July 31, 2015, Alan Munday said:

    I too would welcome an electronic version of the new Song Book, particularly if it is well indexed for getting around. These days, for many of us, electronic forms of books and in handy portable format, that can even be read on mobile phones, are a main means of reading and reference. A special app does not need to be created, simply produce the ebook version in mobi, epub, for preference, otherwise in pdf. Although the text would need to be single column and not as seems to be the case in the new personal edition of the Song Book.

    (Incidentally if someone could take the time to produce new mobi or epub versions,, but proof read and correct the anomalies and perhaps upload them to the Internet Archive or otherwise make their availability known otherwise, perhaps here, they would be doing a great service, I am sure to many).

    In the meantime, these free downloadable copies of historical versions of the Song Book might be of interest. While there are mobi for Kindles and epub versions, because of likely bad formatting of these, the pdf versions may be best to download :-

    The Salvation soldiers' song book by Salvation Army (Canada) Published 1889

    Salvation Army songs by Salvation Army; Booth, William, 1829-1912 Published 1911

    On Thursday, July 2, 2015, Samuel Colp said:

    Hi Margaret,
    When will the new songbook be available for purchase via pdf file, in a book as well, and will the old songbook be able get through a pdf file as well?

    On Monday, June 8, 2015, Kristin Ostensen said:

    Hi Margaret,
    Please contact your local Supplies and Purchasing Department. In Canada and Bermuda, visit
    Kristin Ostensen, associate editor

    On Sunday, June 7, 2015, Margaret Watson said:

    I would very much like to order a copy of the new songbook, but can't find the means to do so. Can you direct me please.

    On Tuesday, May 26, 2015, Kristin Ostensen said:

    Thank you all for your comments. Please note that a "Frequently Asked Questions" section has been added to the bottom of the article to address many of the questions raised here.

    Kristin Ostensen, associate editor

    On Tuesday, May 26, 2015, Evans wanjala said:

    looking forward to see it. plz allow us to download it to our laptops/ phones.

    On Monday, May 25, 2015, Captain Margarita martinez said:

    What would be the cost for the songbook

    On Monday, May 25, 2015, Joel Clark said:

    I'm looking forward to our newest SA songbook! Since we're celebrating 150 years of The Salvation Army, can the previous SA songbooks be made available in digital format as an archival document? Our history is very rich and should be preserved. I, for one, would like to see the old songbooks and their tune books preserved for the future.
    God bless The Salvation Army.

    On Monday, May 25, 2015, Margaret Hill said:

    i LOVE The Salvation Army Songbook. We have a rich heritage in our music and songs. They should never be forgotten. I am anxious to view the new Songbook. I want to see what has been added. I hope not to be disappointed by what has been deleted. Sometimes we don't hear some of the songs from the past, they have meaning and we need to rembrer them and why they were written. I will still keep my earlier copies as I still enjoy the old songs. When I plan worship, I use songs from the Songbook. My Bible and my Songbook go hand in hand.

    On Monday, May 25, 2015, Major Neil Saunders said:

    Will there be an app as the present one for an iPad/phone, it would require music, words and a bio on the author as does the present one which I use a great deal.

    On Monday, May 25, 2015, Major Joseph Smith said:

    Thanks to all the people who made the new songbook possible. I do hope corps will use the launch as an opportunity to remind congregations to bring a songbook to meetings. Large screens are excellent for single verse choruses, visual aids and announcements. Songs with more than one verse are better read and re- read as the meeting allows. This also help in remembering the words.

    Very best wishes.

    On Monday, May 25, 2015, Colin Whittemore said:

    Will an electronic (kindle-type) version of the new Songbook be made available or only printed versions.

    On Monday, May 25, 2015, Matt Little said:

    Looking forward to seeing what new songs have been picked. I lead worship at a SA corps in the UK - the worship band sync all our music using an app on our tablets, so my question is - will this resource be available as a searchable PDF?

    On Monday, May 25, 2015, Michael Pressland said:

    As an officer of sixty one years service, there have been, as far as my memory goes, three new issues of the Salvation Army Song Book. Over these years in a variety of appointments in several different lands I have found each issue to be an invaluable personal aid to devotion and study. I have of course mourned the loss of some well known favourites as each new issue has appeared, but have also welcomed the arrival of fresh poetry and the contributions of those with new insights into the joys and sorrows of the spiritual life. I welcome this new issue, and await its arrival with eagerness. I am sure that it will continue to provide me with a fount of inspiration, challenge and joy.
    Michael Pressland. (Colonel)

    On Monday, May 25, 2015, Itorof Samuel Enang said:

    Great news and welcome development

    On Monday, May 25, 2015, Teresa Tuck said:

    What will the cost of the new songbook be please?
    The exchange rates will make it extremely costly but a must for every salvationist

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