The Musical Salvationist

The Musical Salvationist

The World of Richard Slater (1854-1939), 'Father of Salvation Army Music'

Gordon Cox


Boydell Press



The Musical Salvationist frames the Salvation Army's contribution to British musical life through the life story of composer, arranger and musical editor Richard Slater (1854-1939), popularly known as the 'Father of Salvation Army Music', drawing on his detailed hand-written diaries.
The Musical Salvationist frames the musical history of the Salvation Army through the life story of Richard Slater, popularly known as the 'Father of Salvation Army Music'.
This book focuses upon the significant contribution of the Salvation Army to British musical life from the late Victorian era until the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. It demonstrates links between the Army's music-making and working class popular culture, education and religion.
Richard Slater (1854-1939) worked in the Army's Musical Department from 1883 until his retirement in 1913. His detailed hand-written diaries reveal new information about his background before he became a Salvationist at the age of 28. He then worked as the principal Salvationist composer, arranger and musical editor of the period and had contact with William Booth, the Army's Founder, who rejoiced in 'robbing the devil of his choice tunes'; George Bernard Shaw who wrote a penetrating critique of a band festival in 1905; and Eric Ball who was to become one of the Army's finest composers.
The book illuminates rarely explored aspects of a vibrant British musical tradition, and its adaptation to international contexts.

GORDON COX is a former Senior Lecturer in Music Education, University of Reading.

Foreword by Dr Ray Steadman-Allen.


November 2011
9 black and white, 5 line illustrations
246 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Music in Britain, 1600-2000
ISBN: 9781843836964
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press
BISAC MUS000000, MUS050000, BIO004000
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Table of Contents

The Origins of the Salvation Army and its Musical World
Who was Richard Slater?
Richard Slater: The Musical Salvationist
Musical Participation 1878-1913
Musical Teaching and Learning
Under the Colours 1914-1919: The War Years
Eric Ball and the Inter-War Years (1919-1939): Towards the Golden Age of Salvation Army Music
Richard Slater and his Musical Legacy


Cox (...) builds up a vivid picture of what life was like for musicians in the Salvation Army... (His) admirably documented and readable study belongs to the social history of British music and makes a fascinating contribution. MUSICAL OPINION

As Cox amply demonstrates, Richard Slater was pivotal in creating a self-contained Salvationist musical world (...) Drawing upon an impressive number of primary and secondary sources ... (Cox) ... manages to capture the theological motivation behind Salvationist music - the redemption of the lost (...) Such a balanced assessment should make this well-researched volume appealing to religious and social historians of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Britain. JOURNAL OF ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY

Music has been part of Christian worship for millennia and this study shows that Slater and his 'Army' bands deserve an honourable mention in that history. CONTEMPORARY REVIEW

This book brings to notice the man who was central to the shaping of so much that Salvationists take for granted and the evolution of what was shaped. ... (It keeps) brilliantly to its main ground of grassroots music with scholarship and a refreshing understanding that bangs no drum. It is an excellent reference work. I cannot commend it too highly. SALVATIONIST

The wealth of fresh insight is impressive (...) For anyone interested in the evolution of Salvation Army music and of its place and function within a broader social context, The Musical Salvationist is both informative and engaging. BRITISH BANDSMAN

This book will please the scholar and the general reader. (...) Cox allows us to reassess and better understand in the clearest manner this key figure in SA music and mission. We get a truly human story. (...) This is an outstanding study that makes a vital contribution to the growing field of research into Salvation Army music. THE BRASS HERALD

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