This is a recording of an Open Air meeting(s) conducted by the Salvation Army’s Southsea Citadel Corps, Portsmouth, England in 1960. In his introduction, Norman King relates that Southsea is his “Home Corps,” although in later correspondence King identifies himself with the Corps in South Croydon, London.
Southsea is a seaside town located on the east bank of Portsmouth Harbour on the southern coast of England. It is a popular tourist destination. The Open Air meetings in Southsea were conducted by the seashore and attracted large crowds of English, Welsh, Scots and Irish visitors who enthusiastically participated in the program. This seaside location was near what was referred to as “Speakers’ Corner” – a place in English tradition where the public is invited to speak on any subject. During the course of the Open Air meetings, the Salvation Army often had to compete with other speakers.
The Open Air meeting is historically one of the most popular of Salvation Army functions. The officers and soldiers of the corps gather on a street corner, typically on a Sunday night. The band, singers and musicians play rousing versions of musical numbers attempting to draw a crowd. The tone is upbeat and jovial – almost carnival-like. The music is followed by preaching; and often, the corps leaders attempt to march the crowd to the nearby Salvation Army Citadel to continue the service. Many members of my family for generations have conducted and participated in Salvation Army Open Air meetings on countless occasions.
The recordings of this particular meeting(s) contains a wide variety of music and provides delightful insight into the nature of these meetings. Norman King was very fond of Sidney Cox compositions which were and are widely used throughout the United Kingdom. However, there is only one Sidney Cox composition found in these recordings – a band rendition of Cox’s popular Make My Heart a Garden/Lily of the Valley found on CD 93-2