Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Eastern Territorial Songsters At Historical Park Street Church

Sunday, February 24th – It was a morning made for singing – a crystal-clear, nippy, sun-drenched New England morning. And beckoning from a corner of the Boston Common rose the graceful spire of Park Street Church. The spire itself is a song in architecture; and it was a beacon to the Eastern Territorial Songsters.

What an appropriate – almost hallowed – venue for the Songsters was this 199 year-old place of worship! It was here that “America” (My Country ‘tis of Thee) was first sung; it was Park Street’s organist, Lowell Mason, who wrote “Nearer My God to Thee” and “Joy to the World,” and it was from here that America’s oldest radio ministry – begun in 1923 – carried the message of those songs to the far corners of our country.
And on a personal and more contemporary note, the appropriateness of The Salvation Army Songsters’ presence was underscored by the fact that the Senior Minister of Park Street Church, Dr. Gorgon P. Hugenberger, had heard Christ’s call at The Army’s Camp Wonderland.
So on this morning, with Songster Leader William Rollins to guide them, the Songsters took their places to raise hearts and voices in His praise. Accompanying them at the piano was Christiane Russell.

With “There is a Redeemer," the Songsters opened the service with a core affirmation of why we had all gathered that morning. Then, following the strong message of that hymn, was a gorgeous rendering of Mozart’s version of the 13th century adoration poem “Ave Verum.”
After the invocation and the exchange of Peace greetings among the worshipers, the Songsters filled the sun-flooded church first with the beautiful “In Jesus’ Name” and then with the powerful and soaring “The Majesty and Glory of Your Name.”

At the beginning of the services, the Division Commander, Major William A. Bode, thanked the leadership of Park Street Church for the privileged invitation extended to The Salvation Army’s Songsters for them to join with the membership in giving praise and glory to God. He expressed the hope that the Songsters’ ministry of spreading the Gospel message through song would touch the hearts of all those who were present and send them home with a smile.
The final two songs of the morning’s services certainly did just that!

From this writer’s conversation with many of those who attended the services, the Songsters’ moving rendition of “Somebody Prayed for Me” brought forth a tear to the eye and a catch in the throat – it was so deeply and so personally moving in the way the Songsters shared their passion with the congregation.

Finally, after the closing blessing, the Songsters quickly broke into “Singing in the Heavenly Choir.” It was a delight to see the worshipers suddenly stop gathering their coats and break into rhythmic clapping to the beat of this rousing expression of the Christian joy that’s found in praising God through song – praising Him here and in the world to come. When the Songsters came to the last singing of the chorus, Songster Leader Rollins launched them into it with an energetic double-armed victory pump that brought everyone to their feet – and, as Major Bode had hoped, sent them home with a broad smile.

Needless to say, there was a prolonged standing ovation. Once again, from this writer’s own experience and from speaking with other individuals affiliated in some way with The Salvation Army – officers, soldiers, lay employees – we all quietly shared the same statement: “Don’t they make you feel proud to be part of The Army!”
--Thomas Langdon
Director of Community Relations & Development
Massachusetts Division


At 10:48 AM, Anonymous Anne said...

Songster leader Bill Rollins if you do get this message please get in touch. I have yearned so much to get in touch with you and upto now this is the only place I have been able to find access to you. My name is Anne and I remember you assisting with worship service on Sunday evenings at Boston Central in 1995-6 with Capt. Lyle. I was really young then but you instilled a passion for music in me that has burned in me and continues to grow. I am now Youth Songster Leader in my corps and also Assistant Songster Leader bu t i still have a lot to learn. If I must do anything in this life it is to learn from you. Kindly get in touch and thank you for this blog site. It is good to see how much you are doing for the Lord in the music ministry. Be blessed. Anne. My e-mail address is

At 11:27 PM, Anonymous オテモヤン said...


At 1:15 PM, Blogger THE OLD GEEZER said...

God bless you! :-)


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