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Songwriter's work honoured through musical event

Songwriter's work honoured through musical event

Songwriter's work honoured through musical event

4 July 2018

Major Howard Davies conducts the combined band during the afternoon of singing, music and timrels featuring his music.

By Simone Worthing

More than 300 people joined Major Howard Davies, prolific Salvation Army songwriter, for an afternoon of singing, band music, songsters and timbrels at the Redcliffe City Corps on Saturday 23 June.

The Salvation Army Historical Society Brisbane Chapter, led by Salvation Army historian Garth Hentzschel, hosted the event.

Garth Hentzschel interviews Major Davies during the musical afternoon.

“The impact of Howard’s songs and music has had, and continues to have, an immense, worldwide impact and we wanted to honour that through this event,” said Garth.

Major Davies, who retired in 2005 after 41 years as an officer, has written more than 500 songs over the past 50 years, including vocal arrangements and new music to existing lyrics.

During the afternoon, the 50-strong songsters sang several of these songs, including his most recent work, “If God is for us” – the first time this song has been performed.

“I was particularly moved when they sang this song,” Major Davies said. “It’s based on Romans 8:31 and is quite a strong text from the Apostle Paul talking about fear of persecution and doubts about the future.

“It brings me a great sense of peace to know, and to help others understand, that regardless of what happens in our lives, God is for us and we don’t need to worry. Our future is assured.

“Most of my songs have a strong Scriptural base. Writing a song for me is a bit like writing a sermon – which I’ve done a lot of in my 40 years as a corps officer!

“You can exposit a text in a song, like in a sermon, but it’s more focused through the verses on different aspects of one central truth.”

Lieutenant-Colonel David Rees (Ret.) conducts the combined band.

Other songs played and sung throughout the afternoon included several that are now out of circulation but are much remembered and loved.

Musicians from different corps made up the band – including Redcliffe City, Maroochydore, Caloundra and several Brisbane corps. Major Davies conducted several songs with the band.

“We also used the event to reach out into the community,” said Garth. “There was an excellent article on Howard in the local paper, and radio segments as well. Some people came who have not had any contact with The Salvation Army, others who have not been to the Army for many years came along, and many who came brought neighbours and friends. One man asked to be more involved with the corps as a result of the afternoon.

“We’re not just celebrating history, but also making an impact on the present and future. It was so clear that the Spirit led the afternoon and all that happened there.

To read an interview with Howard Davies about his life and work, click here.

To purchase Major Davies’ book, Words & Music: stories behind the songs (with CD), contact Salvation Army Supplies in Melbourne (1800 100 018) or Salvationist Supplies in Sydney (1800 634 209). The book retails for $25.


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