Salvation Army music is constantly evolving. Originally the Songster brigades (choirs) were formed to teach the congregation new songs and this still happens today.
Music published today varies considerably from that of early day Salvationists. While there is still a place for the simple a capella four-part harmony, a lot of modern music is accompanied by a combination of piano, guitar, string bass, percussion, flute and brass. This makes for a varied and interesting repertoire with, it is hoped, something to suit all tastes.
Chatham Songster brigade was formed in 1902 and follows the Army tradition of a mixed voices group. Since January 2015, the Songsters have been led by Carolynn Woodman. Carolynn has extensive experience as a choral leader both within The Salvation Army and through her employment as Choral Director at The Rochester Grammar School.
An effective Songster brigade relies on a good leadership team, and the brigade is fortunate to have such people in place:
Ruth Hardy (Sergeant). Allan Jones (Sergeant) Carole Horwood (Accompanist) and Teresa Pennington (Secretary).
Clockwise: Allan, Carole, Teresa, Ruth
The aim of the brigade is to encourage and inspire people through singing about the good news contained in the Gospel, with a very important secondary aim of providing friendship and fellowship within the group itself. The first aim is accomplished through using its music to enhance weekly worship at the Corps in Chatham, and anywhere else the group is asked to sing. It aims to provide high quality music to stir the emotions of the listeners and thereby allow their hearts and minds to focus on Christ.
Members come from a variety of backgrounds and occupations, and after giving their lives to God and deciding to become soldiers , or members, of The Salvation Army, have expressed their desire to commit their musical talents to Him in this way.
In 2002, the brigade s centenary year, a CD entitled Bridging the years was produced and over the years programmes have been given throughout the UK â€“ in recent years these have included visits to Salvation Army centres in Plymouth, Southsea, Gloucester, Boscombe, Portsmouth, Croydon, Kettering, Derby, Chelmsford, Ramsgate, Belfast, Tunbridge Wells, Eastbourne, Folkestone and Stotfold as well as the neighbouring corps of Strood, Sittingbourne and Maidstone.
Musical programmes have been presented at many local venues, for churches and many good causes, on occasion combining with other musical groups such as the Kent Messenger Band and our own band. The brigade has sung in London s Festival Hall as well as overseas, for example, during a tour of France and Switzerland in 2005, which featured a number of items especially written for the brigade. In 2012, together with the Songster brigade from Kettering and the International Staff Band, the brigade was delighted to be involved in a programme to recognize the major contribution of Lt. Col. Ray Steadman-Allen to Salvation Army music on the occasion of his 90th birthday. During 2013 the brigade arranged a programme for massed Songster brigades from surrounding corps, with guest conductor Major John Martin, together with the London South East Divisional Youth Band in Chatham Dockyard Church. 2014 opportunities to sing for our Lord included a joint programme with the Corps band at a local church, a programme of Easter music, a joint programme with a group of young brass players in June and a visit to the Salvation Army Corps in Winton, Bournemouth.
February 2015 found the brigade in concert with the City Of Canterbury Brass Band at Folkestone Salvation Army. The year also included another joint programme of music with the South London Fellowship Band, when we welcomed Captain Martin Cordner as our guest leader. In this event we were delighted to join with other Salvation Army choirs from Gillingham, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells forming a massed chorus and this was facilitated using the local King s Church in Chatham. It was an enjoyable evening of Christian music and fellowship. In June, the Songsters travelled to Stotfold Salvation Army to lead the Sunday services and were well received.
Sunday services each week in our buildings in Church Street, Chatham (ME4 4BS) will continue to be a priority where all are welcome to join us in worship as the brigade continues to add its message of encouragement to those who attend