Citrus County Corps Inaugural Music Celebration a Resounding Success
By: Major Stan Carr
Taking its cue from Scripture in Ephesians 5:19-20, “Sing and make music in your hearts to the Lord!”, The Salvation Army’s Citrus County (Florida) Corps held the first Music Celebration Sunday in its 19-year history.
Special guests for the event on Sunday, May 1 were guest conductor and preacher Christopher Priest of Leesburg, Florida and featured soloist and assistant divisional music director Darryl Crossland of Clearwater, Florida.
The day’s events held a multifold purpose. First and foremost was the aim to praise God through music and inspire others to seek Him first in their lives. Second, the celebration sought to recognize the 15-year contribution of corps music ministry by retiring Bandmaster Major Ruth Draper, and the passing of the baton of the corps band to Lt. Col. John Roy Jones. In addition, it was announced that the Salvation Army Citrus County School of Performing Arts will be opening in the near future. The celebration was focused on being a means of bringing those who had not returned to in-person worship back to the corps and to encourage new people to join the current congregation.
Each of the stated purposes was met or exceeded during the celebration. The morning began with the band playing of the rousing tune “I want to sing it, I want to shout it, I want to tell you all about it, the love of Jesus.” The tone was set and the morning proceeded in praise to our Savior Jesus Christ.
After introductions and a wonderful presentation of Scripture by Major Nancy Fabal and Major Donna Smith, a new mixed chorus made its inaugural appearance singing the theme, “Sing and Make Music,” accompanied by the corps band. The chorus later presented an arrangement of “Jesus Saves Me Now,” arranged by Terry Camsey.
The band presented two marches, William Himes’ “God’s Children” and Norman Bearcroft’s “Vanguard” as well as a thoughtful rendition of James Anderson’s “Jesus Loves Me.” The latter featured the two youngest members of the band (Nelson and Ruth Peters) playing the duet of the familiar and beloved tune.
Solos performed by Crossland included a William Himes arrangement of “So Glad” and “Someone Cares” from the Gowans and Larsson Musical Take Over Bid. Both were preformed to the delight and encouragement of all gathered.
Major Hank Harwell, corps officer, presided over the recognition of Major Draper’s contribution for the past 15 years of pioneering and nurturing the music ministry of the corps before handing the baton to Lt. Colonel Jones to lead the music program into the future.
In his remarks following this time of recognition, Jones announced the intent of the corps to launch a School of Preforming Arts as an outreach to the young, and not so young, of Citrus County. He shared that the reach and the impact of the school will be limited only by the resources of instruments and instructors at our disposal while expressing excitement on the future initiative.
The final portion of the celebration was a tribute to Generals John Gowans and John Larsson for their immense contribution to Salvation Army music. Priest related history of these two officers being brought together, meeting for the first time at the corps of Priest’s parents, and the resulting musical combination that brought The Salvation Army not only new music but musicals that in many ways enhanced its ministry.
The tribute included insights and presentation on a few of their now well-known songs; “That’s the Spirit,” “Burning, Burning,” “Someone Cares,” “Kneeling in Penitence,” and “When the Glory Gets into Your Soul.” Also included was a marvelous reenactment of the scene from Take Over Bid in which the wise, old janitor encounters a group of young people from the corps wanting to “take over” The Salvation Army. Lt. Colonel Jones, along with four teens from the Citrus County Corps, delivered a powerful rendition of the necessity of allowing Christ to take over our lives from the inside so that we can effect change on our world. The celebration concluded with the Gowans and Larsson sung benediction “For Thine is the Kingdom.”