“The Salvation Army” (1930)
Commander Evangeline Booth, daughter of William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, asked Sousa to compose this march, and it was to her that he dedicated it. It received its premiere on May 16, 1930, at a pageant in New York celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Salvation Army in the United States. Sousa conducted the massed bands. In this march he had incorporated the Salvationists’ favorite hymn, “O Boundless Salvation,” and when these strains were played the surprised audience broke into enthusiastic applause.
Shortly after Sousa’s death, the story of how he had sought advice on what approach to take in this composition was told in the Salvationists’ own newspaper, the War Cry. Colonel William H. Barrett, who wrote the heart-warming story, told of several interviews in Sousa’s New York office. To get the Salvationists’ slant on “O Boundless Salvation,” Sousa asked Colonel Barrett to sing it. He asked to hear it again, and this time he joined in. He was profoundly moved and remarked that the composer – William Booth – had been inspired. Colonel Barrett may not have realized it, but that was the most sincere compliment Sousa could have made. In his article, Colonel Barrett was discerning in his observation that Sousa “saw the bright side of everything and the good in everybody.” He closed in this manner: “My dear friend has gone to his Eternal Home having been promoted suddenly. I expect to meet him when my life journey is ended.”
Paul E. Bierley, The Works of John Philip Sousa (Westerville, Ohio: Integrity Press, 1984), 82. Used by permission.
*PLEASE NOTE: Currently, none of the marches from Volume 7 are in the public domain. Recordings of non-PD marches are only available for streaming on YouTube. To purchase a published edition of this march, please visit the sheet music vendor of your choice.