In the tradition of Canada Reads, we asked five Salvationists from across the territory to choose one song that they think best represents the mission of The Salvation Army. See what they said—and then cast a vote for your favourite! 

Song: Soldiers’ Hymn (Words and music by Phil Laeger and Marty Mikles; Arranged by Nicola Poore)

Champion: Erika-Shaye Gair

Erika-Shaye Gair (centre) with Canadian bandmates Mikayla Blackman and Annie Robertson at the 2023 Rose Bowl parade
Erika-Shaye Gair (centre) with Canadian bandmates Mikayla Blackman and Annie Robertson at the 2023 Rose Bowl parade (Photo: Cpt Jason Dockeray) 

The song I think best represents The Salvation Army’s mission is Soldiers’ Hymn, by Phil Laeger and Marty Mikles. I first heard it in 2019, when I had the opportunity to march with the Salvation Army band in the Rose Bowl parade in California. It was the 100th anniversary of the Army participating in the parade, so they invited band members from all over the world to celebrate.

As well as the parade, we performed a concert led by bandmasters from various Salvation Army staff bands. My bandmaster was Derek Lance of the New York Staff Band, and he selected Fearless, by Andrew Wainwright, which combined I’m in His Hands and Soldiers’ Hymn. I found it very powerful.

As I played the song, I experienced a moment when I understood what it feels like to be fearless in the pursuit of God. The hymn is fairly new, but the lyrics are reminiscent of older, powerful hymns that draw on the language of being the “army” of God. I became a senior soldier because I knew that above all other things in my life, I wanted to serve the Lord. I thought, What better way to do that, than to join God’s Army?

Soldiers’ Hymn reminds me of the daily commitment to Jesus that I made when I first put on my uniform. The lyrics say, “Let our uniform be holiness and mercy.” We are God’s people, uniformed together, not in matching clothes but in God’s mission. Together across the world, we wear his salvation on our sleeves. What a beautiful thing in which to be unified.

Erika-Shaye Gair is a senior soldier at Cariboo Hill Temple in Burnaby, B.C.

Click here to watch the New York Staff Band (Bandmaster Derek Lance) perform Fearless by Andrew Wainwright.

Click here to watch a virtual choir from the U.S.A. Southern Territory perform Soldiers’ Hymn.  

Song: To Be Like Jesus (Words: General John Gowans)

Champion: Marcus Venables

Marcus Venables
Marcus Venables (Photo: Steve Nelson)

The chorus To Be Like Jesus by General John Gowans beautifully encapsulates the mission of The Salvation Army, resonating deeply with the organization’s commitment to reflecting the character of Christ in all aspects of its work.

This song’s call to action, “to be like Jesus,” unifies the diverse efforts of the officers, soldiers, employees and volunteers of The Salvation Army, connecting them through a shared purpose and vision. The lyrics speak of a hope that possesses us, permeating every thought and deed. It acknowledges that striving to be like Jesus is not reliant on our strength alone but is made possible through the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit within us. 

In all our ministries, whether it’s reaching out to those in need and providing assistance or sharing the message of the gospel, the guiding principle remains consistent: to be Jesus for the world. The words of this song serve as a constant reminder, shaping our decisions and plans, guiding us to embody the love, compassion and selflessness of Christ.

As Salvationists, this song inspires us to pursue Christlikeness with unwavering dedication, knowing that his Spirit is ever-present, guiding and enabling us in our callings to truly be like him.

“To be like Jesus!
This hope possesses me,
In every thought and deed,
This is my aim, my creed;
To be like Jesus!
This hope possesses me,
His Spirit helping me,
Like him I’ll be.”

Marcus Venables is the assistant territorial music and arts ministries secretary.

Click here to watch the Canadian Staff Songsters perform To Be Like Jesus, arranged by Marcus Venables.

Song: We’re an Army Fighting (Words: William J. Pearson)

Champion: Lieutenant Dion Durdle

Lieutenant Dion Durdle
Lt Dion Durdle

The first line of my song choice is “We’re an Army fighting for a glorious King” (SASB 940), written by William J. Pearson. These startling words imply that The Salvation Army is an aggressive Christian movement mobilized to “fight” to establish the kingdom values of Jesus Christ. Ephesians 6:12 (NLT) says, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world.” This song is referring to spiritual warfare and our fight against evil and injustice as followers of Christ, for “with righteousness we mean to conquer wrong.” 

The song continues, “For the world, for the world, Jesus died, Jesus died … All the world to save, to battle we will go … There’s salvation for the world.” The Salvation Army is an “army of salvation” engaged in the salvation war to save the lost, who can, in turn, “by blood and fire [be] made strong.”

I believe this song best represents the Army’s mission because salvation for the world has been a major theological theme of The Salvation Army from the beginning, along with the conviction that salvation is for the “whosoever.” The sixth doctrine of The Salvation Army says, “We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ has by his suffering and death made an atonement for the whole world so that whosoever will may be saved.” This transformational mission of The Salvation Army is worth fighting for.

Lieutenant Dion Durdle is the corps officer at Sydney Community Church, N.S.

Song: Send the Fire (Words: William Booth)

Champion: Janessa Hynes

Janessa Hynes 
Janessa Hynes  

Send the Fire is a powerful hymn written by William Booth, co-Founder of The Salvation Army. Released more than a century ago, this timeless composition continues to inspire and ignite the hearts of believers around the world. Its lyrics, filled with passion and devotion, perfectly embody the core mission of The Salvation Army.

As an organization, The Salvation Army has been at the forefront of social service, humanitarian aid and spiritual ministry. This hymn embodies the Army’s dedication to serving others, even in the face of adversity or indifference, and its commitment to bringing about positive change in society.

My favourite version of this song is arranged by transMission Worship, an Atlanta-based band and ministry of The Salvation Army. In their version, the lyrics to the fourth verse read, “now make our fragile hearts both strong and brave; send us into a dying world to save,” which emphasizes the organization’s deep compassion for those in need and the unwavering dedication to igniting hearts, transforming lives and bringing about lasting change in communities worldwide.

Send the Fire continues to resonate with Salvationists, inspiring them to persistently seek God’s guidance and empowerment in their endeavours. It echoes the essence of The Salvation Army’s mission, which is to bring hope, salvation and practical assistance to those in need. 

Janessa Hynes is a marketing and communications specialist in the Newfoundland and Labrador Division.

Click here for Janessa Hynes’ favourite arrangement of this piece.

Song: There Is a Message (Words: General John Gowans)

Champion: Jamel Bean

Jamel Bean
Jamel Bean

With the abundance of Army songs to choose from, I believe There Is a Message (SASB 439), written by General John Gowans, reflects our mission that we have a message to preach to the world, and that message is to look to Jesus, the Saviour for us all.

The second verse reminds me of something the late Brother Kirwan Brangman, who attended my corps, used to say. He always talked about the “spiritual and the natural” (see 1 Corinthians 2:14 KJV). In “the natural”—someone who doesn’t have the Spirit of God living inside them, or when we rely on human wisdom—there are times when we ask for pardon, and there may be several hoops to jump through and stipulations or conditions to meet to be pardoned. However, spiritually, when we come to Jesus and ask for his pardon, he gives it to us freely.

There are many who seek after false gods, and they are still seeking and waiting for an answer. Yet whoever seeks Christ will receive an answer. He will not ignore you. Thank God for that!

The third verse may seem to be referring to the unsaved who have failed him. However, as believers, we have failed him time and time again. Yet, even with the guilt and shame that may come with our failures, God loves you and me.

It’s nothing like making a phone call and really wanting to speak with someone, and you don’t get an answer. The chorus sums up our mission and gives us hope: to look to Jesus who always answers when we call, because he is the Saviour for us all.

Jamel Bean is the bandmaster at North Street Citadel in Hamilton, Bermuda.

Click here to listen to There Is a Message. 

We want to hear from YOU! Click here to cast your vote for the song that best represents The Salvation Army’s mission.


On Thursday, August 17, 2023, Gary Robson said:

Interesting question. Good choices. I would have selected “Except I am moved with compassion” by Albert Orsborn

On Thursday, August 17, 2023, Lorelie Jorheim said:

I choose "To be like Jesus" by John Gowans. The other choices are also lovely. But for me, that simple first line sums up entirely the work and life of the Salvation Army from the days of William and Catherine Booth on into the present and the future.

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