Music is an integral part of Salvation Army ministry around the world, and the Canada and Bermuda Territory is no exception. The territory’s vocal ministry received a boost in the fall of 2016 with the formation of the Canadian Staff Songsters, under the leadership of Major Len Ballantine. This group of choristers will lead the territory in worship, evangelism and integrated mission through music. The Salvation Army in Canada had a staff songster brigade in its early days, but such a group has not existed for about 100 years.
For all of us who have been involved in the formation of the new Canadian Staff Songsters it is a tremendous honour and privilege,” says Major Ballantine. “Our people come from all walks of life. Some have had musical training beyond what they learned at the corps or music camp, but the vast majority are just good musicians who can read music and sing. Our rehearsals are amazing times of ‘joy in discovery’ as we learn what we can do together.”
Through its ministry, the Canadian Staff Songsters aims to enrich the faith of Salvationists across the territory and beyond, to solidify the mission of the Army in the hearts and minds of those who hear them sing, and move the Army forward in faith.
Canadian Staff Songsters Lead Ministry in Oshawa
The Canadian Staff Songsters (CSS) blessed Salvationists and friends with ministry in Oshawa during the first weekend of May, 2023.
Under the leadership of Major Len Ballantine and supported by Oshawa Temple Songsters, the songsters’ ministry began with an afternoon visit by the CSS to Glen Hill Terrace in Whitby, Ont., where they had the pleasure of using their creative gifts to honour God and engage in fellowship with the more than 40 seniors in attendance.
On Saturday evening, an audience of 230 were blessed by toe-tapping music of thankfulness and praise such as Let There Be Praise and Joyful, Joyful (supported by Oshawa Temple Songsters), and inspired by popular gospel music such as Take Me Back, featuring CSS Steve Cooper and Ol’ Time Jericho, featuring CSS Ian Cooper. Other musical offerings, Green Hill and They Could Not, allowed listeners to reflect on the continuous message of Easter—the resurrection of Jesus and the hope it brings to our lives. Following a short intermission, the CSS worship team invited the congregation to share in praising God’s name.
Other musical offerings included To Be Continued, with words and music by Major Ballantine, which brings a message of hope eternal, and For the Beauty of the Earth, the classic Rutter anthem that compliments the positive message of the well-known thanksgiving hymn.
During his devotional, Major Ballantine reminded the congregation that out of chaos and pain, great things come from the hand of God. Following his thoughts, the CSS (supported by Oshawa Temple Songsters) presented All Things New in which text combined with Scripture provides a message of hope.
The evening concluded with More Than Wonderful by the CSS—a powerful ballad emphasizing that the Lord is greater than anything we will ever know on earth.
Sunday worship with the CSS was supported by Oshawa Temple Songsters and Oshawa Temple Band. Preceding the service, the CSS prepared the congregation for worship through The Easter Song, I Will Rejoice and Hallowed Be Your Name. Other offerings during the service included Every Nation Under Heaven (supported by Oshawa Temple Songsters) and Behold the Tabernacle (based on Revelation 21:3-5).
Prayer for Oshawa Temple was offered up by Major Beverly Ivany, followed by a time of reflection by Major Ballantine where he challenged the congregation, in person and online, to call on God to reveal what he has in store and apply his vision to our daily lives.
The service concluded with CSS members surrounding the congregation singing I Love You Lord, featuring CSS Karen Gross.