“The Crusader” (1888)
Only those who receive certain degrees in Masonry may fully appreciate the meaning of this composition, which was written shortly after Sousa was “knighted” in Columbia Commandery No. 2, Knights Templar, Washington, D.C. The Knights Templar is theoretically derived from the Crusades, and a number of their secret rituals and ceremonies relate to the period when the Crusaders were battling the Turks. Thus the Knight Templar organization itself is probably the “Crusader,” unless Sousa had some individual in mind whose identity has escaped historians.
The march was one of several sold outright to the Philadelphia publisher Harry Coleman for $35.00. It is interesting harmonically, yet straightforward and simple. If Sousa secretly used fragments of any Masonic music in the march, he concealed it so well that Masonic historians have been unable to bring it to the public’s attention.
Paul E. Bierley, The Works of John Philip Sousa (Westerville, Ohio: Integrity Press, 1984), 47. Used by permission.