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Making Music

The story of William Booth

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To consider the life of William Booth and the establishment of the Salvation Army.

Preparation and materials

  • Have available the following YouTube videos and the means to show them during the assembly:

    - ‘The combined brass bands – Army Wales Festival of Music 2018’, available at: (9.14 minutes long)
    - ‘Felixstowe Salvation Army Band and the International Staff Band’, available at: (17.44 minutes long)
    ‘Salvation Army brass band – Joy to the world’, available at: (1.46 minutes long)


  1. Show the YouTube video ‘The combined brass bands – Army Wales Festival of Music 2018’. (9.14 minutes long)

    Ask the children what sort of band is playing. Explain that it is a brass band.

  2. Ask the children whether they can name any brass instruments.

    Explain that the next video might help them to identify some.

    Show the YouTube video ‘Felixstowe Salvation Army Band and the International Staff Band’. (17.44 minutes long)

    Ask the children which instruments they can identify.

    Suggestions might include the trumpet, cornet, horn, trombone, cymbal and drum.

  3. Explain that the band that is playing and marching is a Salvation Army brass band. The Salvation Army is a Christian denomination, and it is best known for its work among the poor.

    Identify that it doesn’t look like the kind of army that goes to war. In fact, it was an army that was established to fight against poverty and injustice. It is also an army of people who want to tell others about Jesus’ love for them.

  4. Tell the story of the start of the Salvation Army.

    You have probably heard of the Victorians. They lived during a long period in our country when Queen Victoria was on the throne. Many people at that time were well-off and lived in posh houses, with lots of money for luxuries. However, many more were very poor and lived in slum dwellings, with not even enough money to feed their families.

    William Booth was one of the lucky ones. He had a job in a shop, but he noticed that many people had no warm clothing and little food to eat.

    He and some friends started to hold meetings in the open air and invited passers-by to come and listen. He spoke to them about God, and told them that God loved and cared for all of them. Unfortunately, some people didn’t like what William Booth and his friends were doing. They often had insults shouted at them and sometimes, stones and rotten food were thrown at them too.

    One of Booth’s friends, Charles Fry, came up with a clever idea to fix the problem. He and his three sons all played instruments, so they offered to bring them along to help with the singing. They would also act as bodyguards at the rowdy meetings. It worked! The cheerful music seemed to reduce the tension and also drowned out any shouts and abuse.

    William Booth and his army soon got to know the needs of the community and did everything that they could to help the poor. As people began to see that the Salvation Army not only wanted to sing and talk about God, but also wanted to help the poor, many joined them.

Time for reflection

Music is still a big part of the Salvation Army. At Christmastime, Salvation Army bands are often heard playing around the country.

The next video shows a smaller Salvation Army band playing. The song that they are playing is called ‘Joy to the world’.

Show the YouTube video ‘Salvation Army brass band – Joy to the world’. (1.46 minutes long)

Dear God,
Thank you for William Booth.
Thank you that today, there are Salvation Army churches in almost every town in our country.
Thank you that William Booth’s army are still telling people about God’s love and showing kindness and compassion.
Please help us to be good examples of showing kindness and compassion to others.

Publication date: September 2022   (Vol.24 No.9)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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