Dear Salvation Army, The New Song Book

You know, as they say, “Out with the old, in with the new”…but a part of me is feeling a little melancholy about this one.   I can still remember the old song book, now twice removed.  It has been put to pasture years ago, but for a few still lingering upon shelves of Salvation Army libraries or others who feel sentimental like me.  I remember how that book smelled. Its pages were crisp and contained many of the songs I grew up singing.  Some of those songs are still intact, reprinted with a new paint job and a new format inside this new song book. (Phew that was a lot of “news“)   Some of the old songs, will inevitably have to wait for another resurrection, until some of us sentimentals grow older and find we really do miss seeing those lyrics among the pages of a Salvo Book.
Photo Jan 11, 9 53 05 AM.jpg
Nonetheless, I do like this new edition…it is growing on me.  (Although, I realize that I too am not always amenable to change.)
The segregation of the chorus section is no more.  Newer, more singable chorus are now included.  The creators of this edition even took the time to incorporate scriptural referencing as well as thematic messages…it’s a Holiness meeting (and other meetings) preparer’s dream to have this new tool within these pages!

From a corps perspective, soldiers by and large, enjoy seeing this new song book among the pews.  I wonder if most soldiers, adherents and attendees feel the same?  I would be curious to know other people’s thoughts and first impressions of this new song book as it hits the pews around the world.

For Me:
It’s still growing on me.  It’s going to take some time as I put my long goodbyes away for “old red” and begin to feel the inevitable present-tense of this new tool in songbook form.

There are other, more pressing issues to ponder about…but for just a moment I had to find time to ruminate on the passing of another song book, besides I’m going to miss seeing those red bound books in the pews…perhaps that’s just me.

What do you think of this change?
Is it good, bad, kind of the same?  Tell us what YOU think.

Something more to ponder today.


Disclaimer: 

The views of pastorsponderings.org are the writer’s thoughts and opinions and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts and opinions of The Salvation Army.

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31 Comments

  1. First impressions – print is feint, miss chorus section for a “spontaneous chorus time” session. Band tune books seem to have suffered the same reduction in print size and clarity.

  2. While I recognise that in many parts of the world print still reigns supreme, I wondered about the relevance in my part. We do many songs/hymns/choruses (both ancient and modern) from outside the Song Book and project them. Functionally it is a lot less relevant than the last release, and even then choruses and songs were being used in unofficial printings of various qualities, usually bad. However, as a functional symbol of The Salvation Army and it’s teachings, it is important. Very helpful that the guitar chords are in and the settings are singable. As to the musical arrangements, I can’t comment as we haven’t used them in our band yet. It is used by many as a devotional and will be helpful in that regard.

  3. I love the inclusion of chord symbols in the piano tune book although some of the chords are rather obscure and could have been simplified. Also the binding on the (2 volumes) of the piano tune book make it difficult to stay open on the instrument.

    My biggest fear before I saw the new song book was that it was going to be too modern and that too many old favourites were going to be missing however upon receiving it I find myself thinking that it’s too traditional(!) and that IMHO not enough modern songs and choruses have been included in the mix.

    I guess that some people (ie me) are never happy but also realise the challenges of compiling a song book for our international Army and that what might be relevant here in Australia may not be in every English speaking Territory.

  4. Speaking as one who runs the visual media at my corps, I’m wondering why, when sings are included that were also in the previous song book, certain words have been changed. One issue is that while the print version of the song book has been available for months, the electronic version has not yet been made available to us. So if we want to be consistent with the words on the screen and those in the song book for those who like to use it, we have to individually alter the songs in the database. For example – Silent Night has round THE virgin mother and child vs round YON virgin. RESTS in heavenly peace vs SLEEP in heavenly peace, etc.

    Having just come through the Christmas season, that’s when this issue jumped out at me the most. We had a Christmas hymn sing that was largely attended by seniors, many of whom would be using the song book, while others would be using the words from the screen.

    Check out song #118, O Little Town of Bethlehem. Verse two – the first half of the verse is now the second half of the verse! Why? Is this an error? And back to #124, Silent Night. Why are these verses included? What happened to the shepherds quaking? People who were singing the words from the screen physically opened the song book in the pew – can this be right? Yes, there it is in print!

    Just a few of my frustrations. Thanks for listening.

  5. Still waiting for my songbook order to arrive (so that I can pick out the songs I want sung at my funeral!!!) from the UK. Vol. 2 of the Tunebook has the words included, so I know some of the songs that will be included. As for seeing the new SB sitting in the pews, I have the feeling that, too, may be history – thanks to modern media. Our soldiery, if they do not purchase a SB for their own personal use, will miss a very important tool for their devotional time. As a retired officer, I, too, am pleased that many of the old songs are included, as has been the case for prior editions. It goes without saying that they have stood the test of time, which will not be the case for some of the contemporary songs – here today, gone tomorrow, including the musical accompaniment. I do commend the committee for the awesome task that was their’s of deciding what to include/exclude, considering the internationalism factor. Ray Boutcher, Major Canada.

  6. Our corps has liked the new song book because it has scripture basis included with each one.

    I do wish we put song titles in there since the first line of a song is not always it’s name.

    1. Previous editions used to have First Lines and Name of Song indexes. There must have been a reason why this was stopped. Find the culprit – find the reason.

  7. On a whole I enjoy the new somgbook, I do miss having a chorus section. I also don’t understand why the piano tune book and band music is not always in the same key. I haven’t found a song yet that was in the old songbook that I really love that isn’t in the new, so I say change is good.

  8. The print in the new book is ridiculously small. My eye sight is good but I have to wear my spectacles to red it. I imagine that it will be difficult for a large part of any congregation to be able to read it. Why has it been printed in this way????

  9. I like the mix of traditional and contemporary songs. My prayers have been answered in that my Charles Weasley and Albert Orsborne favourites are still included. I hope that the contemporary congregations will use these amazing songs more often. Print is a bit small for my ageing eyes

  10. On we march! The Song Book , in my estimation, is heads above other churches’ hymnals and song books. ( case in point, I was having my name inscribed on the Song Book covrr to match my Bible at a local Bible Bookstore, the clerks could no get over the number of hymns, songs and choruses in the book, and its compactness.) We grow with change as long as the Lord and our worship of Him doesn’t!!!

  11. What a waste of good money! William Booth me thinks would not be happy. Most churches and corps now use power point and the like. There may be some that need it like seniors and visually impaired but to go the whole gammit and print in bulk! Wonder how many low or no income people could be served bread, milk and other sustenance at this cost? Really people!

    1. I want to start off with a brief history.
      Joined SA age 7. Held a variety of positions including senior positions.
      Left Army for 25 years, rejoined and recommitted 1 year ago aged 63.
      So I have dropped out of a cycle of songbook, the last one having passed me by completely.
      I am surprised no-one has thought of bringing out a ‘reverse songbook’. This could bring into print all those songs excluded from the last few songbooks, into one place. Thereby filling the gap and quelling the longing left by these missing gems. My personal favourite excluded a couple of issues ago was ‘The Marriage Supper of the Lamb’.
      ‘O I am ready’ for that book to come into print

  12. I like it but have some reservations. Why change words to very traditional songs like Silent Night. It was confusing for the congregation and for me. And the print is small. I don’t know why it was reduced when many of our congregation are getting older and have poor eyesight.

    But I love many of the newer songs that have been included and allow us to use one book instead of two.

  13. When will this book knock at the doors of Africa! we seem to be left out yet the world has become a small village in this era of great technology; do something to avail these. may be the electronic versions could reach us easily without much hassle and unnecessary delays. Congregations in many of African Territories may not even be aware that there is a new Songbook!

  14. I was very surprised, indeed, disappointed at the size of the print in the new band tune books. They send the message, at least to me, that older band members are no longer welcome to play in the SA band. The type is so very small that older band members like myself will not be able to read the music. Perhaps this can be corrected in future editions/printings?

  15. I am loving the new song book. Yes some songs are changed with different words that we use in the States, but I am so enjoying scriptures to each song and the change.

  16. Generally, I feel there has been a great deal of effort put into a book whose actual use is questionable. Contemporary, non – Army christian music has taken the front seat in most small corps that I been to who don’t have a band or piano player. Sadly, I feel the traditions of the Army are not being transferred to new members and we are losing our identity because of it. As I look back the song book was key in my understanding of our unique mission, theology, and history.

  17. There is no need for a new Song book.
    All of the Songs in the New SA Book are already in the old SA book, Songs of Fellowship, The Source or Happiness and Harmony.

      1. It is ‘all’ I am afraid.
        You have a look and I bet you can not find one song in the new song book that is nowhere else.

  18. Though I have always loved the song book and have used it for devotionals with todays technology it was a waste of peoples time to put it all together and a waste of printing funds. Electronic version would have been fine. Also not reprinting would have made the old ones and the really old ones my family has even more precious and valuable to everyone.

    1. We will always need a hard copy of the song book. What about as you mentioned when using it for personal devotions. When systems or people who work the systems crash, what would be the back up plan?
      If we are asked to take a service where there is no ‘over head’ facility? Or anytime we are required to be mobile.
      The same numbers will not be required to be printed, we realise that. If that makes the cost prohibitive then maybe not in hardback but in paperback.
      Maybe we only put new songs into ‘PRINT’. With limited ‘re-PRINT’ of the main SONGBOOK as required

      1. I have only been an officer for 5 years and so far have never used the Song Book. Now that may be because we don’t have a brass band only a praise band but I don’t see myself ever being at a corps with a brass band. Most of my congregation are non-army and don’t know the song book but they do know the music we play which they hear on Christian radio.

  19. I really like the catorization of the different types of songs and the scriptures that allud to them. However, I miss some of the older tunes that we’re deconized for some reason. I hope one day they will consider putting the Music itself with the words, this makes it easier for one to sing by for those who really read music!

  20. What are the differences between the North American and UK songbook? I have the UK one, and it is blue instead of read, and the songs are left justified, so easier to read. However, it looks like they are all the same. So, I am trying to figure out why a separate N.A. version was made.

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