The Danish Staff Band of The Salvation Army was established in 1890, but was disbanded in 1932 due to financial reasons, when the band was at its prime, and just after returning from a victorious tour in England.
The mission of this amazing band was to set the pattern for
Salvation Army bands in Denmark, be the standard of reference and to spread the Gospel through music and example. The band travelled up to 11 months of the year, often with five engagements every
day and campaigned not only in Denmark, but also in Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Germany and England. The band even took part in the 1914 International Congress in London.
Although most band members were only teenagers, the band became renowned for its musical excellence, commitment and high Christian standard, and its popularity made it a rallying point for Danish Salvationists, but also for many Salvationists in southern Sweden. Through innovative programmes and creative ministry the band showed ability to adapt to an ever changing context and to connect to any audience.
They played down a mineshaft in Sweden - assisted German children in collecting money for war invalids from the Great War - narrowly escaped a major train accident in Germany - assisted Evangeline Booth with "The World's greatest Romance" - sleigh rides in Finland - almost drowning and by mistake ending up in Germany - battling with a circus band - marching from town to town - turning up at the Finnish Castle (uninvited) to play for the Danish King who was on a state visit - fleeing out a back door at a corps building, to avoid an attack by rioters and much much more.
Their duties also included 6-7 testimonies at concerts, praying with people, witnessing on train travel, selling War Cry's, having open air meetings and daily bible studies, but these are only few examples. It could even be regarded as a mobile officers training college, and for many it was.
Many band members would later become very influential figures in The Salvation Army in all parts of the world. One of these, from the bands early years, was Danish noble Emil Marcussen. He would later be knighted. He served most of his career in the USA. He would in his retirement work as the Army’s prison chaplain at Folsom and San Quentin.
Other bandmembers would highly influence the Army’s banding, such as Erik Leidzén and Emil Söderström, yet others had been or would become bandmasters of Staff Bands in places like Germany, Czechoslovakia, Finland and Argentina. Again others had served or would serve in other Staff Bands – like Alfred Benwell who had been a member of the Junior Staff Band in London – the predecessor to the ISB. Another to mention, is Staff Bandmaster Peter Emilius Andersen, who could hardly see (eventually turning blind) and translated the whole Bible into Braille.
For several years Ernst Söderström (the father of Emil Söderström) was the bandmaster. He had significant influence on the band's development, creating the basis for the band's finest periode (1924-1932), but had also major influence on the development of music within The Salvation Army in Denmark.
The later bandmasters: Sigvald Jensen, Carstens Clausen and Harald Jensen all showed excellent musical and personal competences, and secured the continued high standard and development.
The band was pacesetting regarding Salvation Army band music
with the vast repertoire of music by Leidzén and Söderström (the march "Fighting for the Lord" a regular for many seasons), but also by featuring ground braking music by others, like "The King of
Kings" by Eric Ball, when it was still in manuscript.
The story of this remarkable band challenges us in our service in the 21st century as Salvationists as well as Salvation Army band members and bandmasters. Though sometimes almost unbelievable - like when the band gave a concert down a mineshaft in Sweden, the story is fascinating, moving, inspiring and most encouraging.
Hope you have become more curious on the Danish Staff Band so that you will buy the book!
Below you can see a few photos of the band, but this is just a small fragment of what you will find reproduced in the book.