Restless horses

Body Builder

by Terry Camsey, Major – 

Many years ago, Michael Kenyon the respected Salvation Army composer (with tongue in cheek), arranged some of the Army’s regulations for male voice quartet. His arrangement was used frequently as a light note in musical festivals, since Michael picked out for treatment some of the regulations that had become dated.

I don’t remember much of the text, but one phrase has stuck with me through the years. It was from the then-current Orders and Regulations for Bands and Songster Brigades and went like this: “The band shall not play in the presence of restless horses”!

I guess that when coined the phrase was very appropriate, since on the streets of major cities in the UK the principal form of transportation would have been horse-drawn cabs and buses. By the time Michael Kenyon wrote his male voice quartet, however, you’d be hard put to find a horse on the streets of London.

Recently, in Salvationist, I saw a letter wherein someone was complaining because a certain band or songster brigade was wearing red epaulets. Those had been taboo since around 1974 when all bands and songsters were required to change to blue epaulets. Beryl and I were in New York at the time and had not long left Hollywood Tabernacle where band and songsters wore red velvet epaulets. We had received some very strange looks since, I guess, regulation-wise you had to be a commissioner to wear velvet!

But, regarding the change to blue epaulets, I was the divisional bandmaster in Greater New York and was anxious to find out why the change from red to blue, since the red was so much more attractive and festive, and since this was a question all bandsmen and songsters in that division were asking. Mindful that these were the people I represented, I dutifully took up the question with THQ.

I never did get a straight answer, but in my heart of hearts I believe I knew it. And my sense was that it related to separating the non-officer from the officer—as if the man on the street knew any different, or cared.

We did dutifully salute and change to blue epaulets. Why be a soldier if you don’t intend to follow the lawful commands of leaders? But here we are, thirty years later, and the issue comes up again phrased as an objection to someone flouting the regulation. I should add that, by special dispensation, some bands and songster brigades were allowed a variation of trim. Yet others without such formal dispensation seemed to have been able to get away with it!

William Booth had something valuable to tell us about regulations:

It has never been intended that The Salvation Army should be governed merely by regulations; a living Army which fights can only be directed from hour to hour through the agency of living men, who make themselves thoroughly familiar with all its regulations and affairs and act accordingly. Nevertheless, there must be regulations—they are a necessity. What is done must be done in some particular fashion. And if one way of doing it is better than another, it must be the wisest course to discover that better way and to describe it in plain language so that we may be able to walk in it until a still better becomes known. Regulation signifies that, so far as our knowledge extends, the particular course of action required by it is the best known up to date.
I wonder how often regulations get reviewed and revised. I wonder how many “restless horse” type regulations are still on the books. Peter Drucker suggests that every three years an organization should review everything it does and ask whether—if it were to start from scratch today—it should continue to do things the same way.

Yea, or Neighhhhhh?

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