by Lawrence Shiroma, Major –
It can be said unequivocally that God has blessed the Army with devout leaders and I would like to share briefly about my encounter with one such person. Every once in a while you meet someone you have held in high esteem but have known only from a distance. For me, this person would be our former Territorial Music Director, Bandmaster James Anderson, who was recently promoted to Glory. I’m not sure if it was because of his Scottish heritage or his Salvationist family upbringing, but in addition to being a gifted musician and composer, Jim was a personable—yet undeniably—godly man.
I first met Anderson in Alaska when he came up as our special guest to our divisional music camp at King’s Lake in 2002. He promptly issued a challenge to our ragamuffin group of Alaskan youth to sing for the final concert a traditional hymn of the church written by John E. Bode, and transcribed by Jim himself. As we passed out the music I thought to myself, “No way is he going to be able to pull this off. This piece is way over the heads of our young musicians!”
However, during rehearsals—in his friendly yet firm and persuasive manner—the bandmaster was able to focus and command the campers’ attention to the task at hand. During the final concert, all of us in the audience were stunned and deeply moved as the youth sang with genuine fervor and compassion, O Jesus, I have promised, to serve thee to the end; Be thou forever near me, my master and my friend; I shall not fear the battle if thou art by my side, nor wander from the pathway if thou wilt be my guide.
Jim Anderson’s many music compositions are well known among Army bandsmen throughout the world. One of my favorites is a driving, straightforward march entitled “Morning Glory.” Within this piece is the Sunday school chorus, “This Is the Day,” from Psalm 118:24. This deceptively simple chorus is usually interpreted experientially—this very day. “Today” is the day that the Lord has made. However, a further meaning of the chorus can also be taken if you include verse 22 with 24: The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone…This is the day which the Lord has made.
Eschatologically, the chorus hints toward the coming Day of the Lord, when the Chief Cornerstone will return to redeem the faithful. What an indescribable day this will be! This is “the” day! This is the day when Christ returns; we will rejoice and be glad in it! Within this frame of reference, Anderson’s “Morning Glory” resolves into a joyful hymn of Easter, telling of Christ’s rising on the first resurrection morning and our anticipation of his second coming.
One of the last times I met Bandmaster Anderson was the summer he invited me to teach the guitar students at the Western Music Institute. He was elated that over 200 young people came out that year from all over the territory. His unique demonstration of wearing the traditional Scottish kilt during fellowship night still lingers in my mind. By the time my wife and I left Alaska for Los Angeles in 2007, Jim had already moved back to the Southern Territory with his wife Christina to take on other responsibilities. But I am grateful for the influence he left in my life, as well as in the lives of countless young people, during his stay in the West.
Thank you, Lord, for Jim Anderson and—perhaps more so than his music—for his enduring example as a man of God and his life of holiness.
O Jesus, I have promised to serve thee to the end; Be thou forever near me, my master and my friend; I shall not fear the battle if thou art by my side, nor wander from the pathway, if thou wilt be my guide.