The Salvation Army national singing group SpiritSong recently performed in a concert in Hastings Corps (church), which is their first corps visit in two years since the beginning of the pandemic.
Executive Officer of SpiritSong, Lt-Colonel Lynette Hutson, said they had seven cancelled weekend events due to Covid restrictions, because singing is unfortunately a germ spreader.
Coming out of Covid, they didn’t have a musical director and had lost several choir members. Thankfully, for their first concert in Hastings, they had a new musical director and new members.
There was limited time to practise together as a group, but all worked hard to make the weekend in Hastings as good as it could be.
The weekend was jam-packed for the team, with a performance at a rest home on the Saturday and a concert at Hastings Corps, and also leading worship on the Sunday.
For the group, performing at a rest home is an important part of their weekend as even though some residents may have dementia or may not be able to communicate, music speaks to them.
SpiritSong has performed at corps, rest homes and malls, but is open to performing anywhere the local corps wants them to.
The overall theme for the weekend was ‘Scars’, inspired by a musical composition about God’s love and healing, with lyrics, ‘I’m thankful for the scars because without them, I wouldn’t know your love’.
For Lynette, it was a fitting theme coming out of the pandemic: ‘It just led beautifully after coming out of Covid, saying, we’ve all suffered through this time. It’s been unsettling. People have lost their sense of security. And yet, here we are, and we’re ready to go on,’ she said.
SpiritSong has been transitioning from presenting as more formal, to a more relaxed style being flexible in the way they perform across the country.
‘It’s not reinvented, but we’re looking to be relevant and connected in the ministry that we provide. So, what do people want? What do people like? And that’s what we want to do,’ said Lynette.
They also want to connect more with people, and one way they are doing this is by allowing people to come to the front and join in singing during one of their rehearsals.
The weekend at Hastings saw a few young girls come up and sing, which was a delight for all.
It doesn’t matter how well they can sing, but they want people to feel they belong. Lynette says it is ‘warm and engaging’. They also want the group to be inclusive with members of all ages and want it to be a place where young people can grow.
‘We are particularly really open to younger people being able to come and be part of and be strengthened and grow spiritually and musically through the group,’ she said.
Their plans for the future are to engage more with smaller corps around New Zealand who don’t get a lot of attention.
Lynette said most importantly their overall mission is ‘to use music as a connection … using vocal music as a means of connecting spiritually with people’.