Dispersed voices unite to sing ‘Soldier’s Hymn’

Apr 21, 2020 | by Brad Rowland

Dispersed voices unite to sing ‘Soldier's Hymn'

By: Brad Rowland

Musicians and artists across the world are in search of ways to utilize their considerable talents in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Within The Salvation Army, that theme is certainly present, with several initiatives launching with the aim to maintain that creative spirit and fellowship, all while following the crucial practice of social distancing.

With that in mind, the Southern Territory's Music and Arts Department is focused on creating and implementing resources that can be utilized locally.

"Everything that our department is doing is focused on creating resources for corps in the territory," said Joshua Powell, territorial contemporary music specialist. "Everything that we do is directed at how we can help our corps provide the best, distraction-free worship that they can for people. We're trying to find new ways to do that during this time, but it is still resource-focused. That's what we're called to do."

A collaborative effort came to light in mid-April through that premise, with the potential to be utilized within virtual services or simply to worship remotely. An open invitation was placed, primarily via Facebook, to participate in a virtual choir performance centered on a favorite song of many, transMission's "Soldier's Hymn."

Individuals were provided with resources, including an accompaniment track and sheet music, and asked to record their own vocals while on camera. To make sure that the process was seamless, vocalists were asked to listen to the accompaniment track with headphones, allowing only the singing to be captured and shared.

All told, 28 individuals submitted recordings. From there, the samples were mixed together to produce what became a beautiful and moving rendition of the song.

The use of "Soldier's Hymn," originally recorded by transMission in 2009 and penned by Marty Mikles and Phil Laeger, was a purposeful one in that the song captured the moment and The Salvation Army's mission.

"We wanted the song to be meaningful," Powell said. "The idea of this song being a battle cry for The Salvation Army was big. It reminds us of why we do what we do and who it is we do it for. It's a great reminder that we have a mission. Even though we're being called by the government to distance ourselves for safety reasons, we still have an obligation to them, and to the lord, to realize this vision that he has placed before us. The ministry doesn't take a pause. We have to find ways to keep it moving."

Though the song was initially recorded in a contemporary setting, Captain Nicola Poore, an officer from Australia, previously arranged the music into a format conducive to choir singing. The recording was well-received, both by individuals who actively participated and by those who simply watched from afar. Discussions continue on other potential avenues for this type of communal experience, including the potential for another virtual choir rendition.

Still, this was a special collaboration, and the words of the song, challenging individuals to go "forward to the glorious fight of love," ring true in this moment.

"It's a huge encouragement that we're still The Salvation Army," said Powell. “There are still people in our community that are in need and an entire world that needs to hear about the gospel. We just wanted this to be an encouragement to our territory and beyond."

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