By Mark A. Kellner –
Special to New Frontier
Enterprising Songsters of the Pasadena Tabernacle Corps have another star for their musical crown: the production of what is believed to be the first interactive, enhanced CD by a Christian choir, let alone by a Salvation Army musical company.
What is more, the product is a tremendous success which is bound to command the attention of many beyond Salvation Army circles. Its innovative use of multimedia technology all but guarantees that this CD will gain new followers for the Pasadena Tab Songsters, as well as for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Some explanation is in order: along with 16 new songs recorded by the group, accompanied by a 58-piece orchestra, “Almighty” uses part of the CD’s space to store data files which can be read on a Macintosh or Windows computer.
Users will need at least a dual-speed CD-ROM drive, 8 megabytes of memory, and the appropriate sound card (in the case of Windows; Macs have built-in audio), and external speakers to enjoy the product. In turn, using software called QuickTime, users can not only hear the songs, but see the lyrics and read a Bible study keyed to each song. The studies were compiled by Maj. Chick Yuill, the commanding officer at the Tab.
The songs and Bible studies work well together: when reading about Richard Kelso Carter’s hymn, “Standing on the Promises,” one is filled with a new appreciation not only for the promises of God, but for the dedication Carter had to his Lord and to serving others. These are excellent thoughts to ponder as the Songsters energetically render this number, complemented by an awe-inspiring solo by Barbara Allen, who with her husband Steve are recent additions to the brigade.
Similar studies complement the other songs, and would be “enough” if that is all the CD provided. But wait, there is more: along with a color picture of the Songsters is another interactive feature. Click on any individual Songster and you’ll get a close-up photo, a small biography and a sound clip. Added to this are two short “movies” about the Tab and its role in Pasadena. The narration clearly places the corps both in the mainstream of its home city and at the forefront of Christian worship and service.
At a time when both within our ranks and outside there has been question and debate about the validity of the uniform and the identity of The Salvation Army as a Christian church (we know we’re a church, but many outsiders don’t), the portrait which emerges from “Almighty” will go a long way towards dispelling myths about the Army and enhancing understanding of its role as a fighting force for good in a troubled world.
The Pasadena Tabernacle Songsters could have merely recorded their music, and none would have thought worse of them for it; indeed, we who are appreciative listeners would enjoy the aural abundance provided. However, in producing an educational and informational tool the Songsters, and especially CD-ROM designer Richard Brown, deserve special commendation. This disc will not only help “make the world with music ring,” but it will speak volumes about the Army which is the church home to these dedicated, talented souls. Hallelujah!
— Mark Kellner, a soldier of the Arlington, Virginia, Corps, is “On Computers” columnist for The Washington Times and author of “God on the Internet.” In 1993 and 1994, Mark and his wife Jean soldiered at the Pasadena Tabernacle. Visit Mark’s home page at https://www.reston.com/kellner/kellner.html