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Concert inspires worship

by Erick Rodriguez –

Let There Be Praise, a concert held at the Tustin Ranch Corps on Saturday, May 3, featured performances by the Western Territorial Songsters, an All-California Band led by special guest Bandmaster William Himes from the Central Territory, and presentations by (Ret.) General John Larsson.

The songs performed by the Territorial Songsters, led by Territorial Music and Worship Arts Secretary Neil Smith, were varied and exciting. The songsters entered the hall while performing “Singing in The Heavenly Choir.” The grand finale, “Love Cannot Fail,” featuring Matt Woods, was moving.

With performances of “In Good Company,” “Praising” and the reflective arrangement “The Blessing” by Himes, the all-California Band led us in worship.

It was a treat to listen to (Ret.) General John Larsson perform songs from the musicals he and (Ret.) General John Gowans have written and to hear how they wrote them. It’s remarkable that the “two Johns” (Larsson’s own title for the duo) wrote 10 musicals and collaborated on some 250 songs. He recounted how they sometimes composed via phone when stationed miles away from each other.

Larsson performed several songs originally composed for musicals that later became Salvation Army anthems. “Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!” “Someone Cares” and “When the Glory Gets into Your Soul” were just a few of the songs we enjoyed. In a dramatic enactment, Major Steven Bradley played the part of “Light Fingered Freddy” in “Down the Street Comes the Band” from the musical Hosea.

For months, the cast of Espiritu!, the Latino version of the Gowans and Larsson musical Spirit!, had been rehearsing songs such as “Burning, Burning,” “Ask! Ask! Ask! And it shall be given” and “To be Like Jesus” in Spanish. Listening to Larsson’s explanation of their origins as he performed them in their original style gave the cast a deeper understanding of God’s message. As Larsson sang, members of the cast seated around me sang along in Spanish. They began to identify themselves with something much larger than the musical that we would perform the following day. We were part of God’s plan to share a message of hope and love through music, written by men who were undoubtedly inspired by God.

In the end, when we sang “Love Cannot Fail” from the musical, Spirit!—“Su Amor Nunca deja de ser (from Espiritu!)”—we understood that this was the message of the evening: Let there be praise for his love never fails; it transcends language or boundaries.


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