The St. John’s Temple Songster Brigade was founded in early 1912 by Mrs. Adjutant Hargrove, the Corps Officer at the time. For over 100 years, uninterrupted even by war, the Songster Brigade has been ministering through music and enhancing the corporate worship of the St. John’s Temple Corps. Its many members have known the joy of bringing inspiration and blessing to others through song.
In the early years, the Songsters were active in open-air work and had a complete repertoire of “marching songs”. During the war years, community service enhanced their Christian fellowship; in the fifties, live radio and TV broadcasts brought exciting new challenges. From the second half of the century to today, the songsters have been known for their broad repertoire and musical excellence. The songsters have had many dedicated and talented leaders, including Marion Barter, Lillian Moulton (Mercer), Al Cooper, Wilmore Woodland, David Orsborn, Morgan Sharp and Rhodie Anne Woodland. The longest serving Songster Leader was Roy Chaytor, serving from 1971-74 and 1978-1994. During his years of leadership, the songsters travelled to both Oshawa, Ontario (1973) and Winnipeg, Manitoba (1982 Centennial Congress) as well as releasing a recording, “Singing All the Time”.
Some of the recent highlights of the Songster Brigade have included several Christmas cantatas, travel to the corps anniversaries of Park Street Citadel, Corner Brook Temple and Islandview Corps. The Songsters were the featured choir at the St. John’s Citadel “Spring Praise” in 2010 along with guest artist Jude Gotrich, as well as participating in a massed choir in the Global Day of Prayer Service at the Basilica of St. John the Baptist.
In 2012, the Temple Songsters celebrated 100 years of choral ministry with a special weekend under the leadership of Majors Renee (a former Temple Songster) and Donald Lance of the Pendel Division of the USA Eastern Territory. In the Saturday evening concert, “Sing for Joy”, the Songsters were joined by Songster Alumni as well as the Temple Singing Company and the St. John’s Citadel Songsters: over one hundred voices raised in joyful praise and proclaimed the “Boundless Salvation” of our God!
Today the Temple Songster Brigade consists of 30 members who range in age from 15 to 85 and has been conducted by Carolyn Reid since January 2000.We are united by a desire to “…proclaim the Salvation Army’s message: salvation from sin through Jesus Christ and to accomplish the Army’s purposes: the glorification of God and the salvation of souls”. (Salvation Army Orders and Regulations for Music Organizations, 1999).
We count it a privilege to be part of this music ministry. Our prayer is found in these words by Leonard Ballentine:
Lord, may the words we sing have meaning.
Lord, may the thoughts we bring have blessing.
Lord, may the gift of music lift our hearts to Thee,
And inspire our spirits, more of You to see.
Lord, in some special way that only You can know,
Help each of us to trust, in faith to grow;
Serving You this way, sharing love today,
In bringing joy to others, may Your joy be ours today.