Celebrating 40 years

Singing the heart songs: 1980 to 2020

ISS 40 logo 1980 to 2020

Singing to the heart from 1980 to 2020

We are delighted to be celebrating the 40th anniversary of the International Staff Songsters this year. Our mandate since our founding has been to sing the heart songs of The Salvation Army, whether the songs are new or from our rich musical legacy.

All members, past and present, have been custodians of this purpose. We have the greatest gift and privilege to sing words and music inspired by scripture that teach us the truths of the Bible message and enhance our personal devotions and corporate worship. We are grateful for the opportunities we have had to praise and worship and share God’s love.

Exactly 40 years to the day, in March 2020 the ISS returned to the venue of our first public performance - the Fairfield Halls, Croydon - for a Choral Symphony, hosted by Aled Jones. 

The International Staff Songsters has a very special ministry because the songs bring people nearer to God. Sung theology has been an integral part of The Salvation Army since our inception. The songs of the ISS carry on that tradition - they comfort us in moments of trial and grief and lift our hearts in praise. May God richly bless the International Staff Songsters in this its 40th year, but also in the years to come.”
General Brian Peddle, International Leader of The Salvation Army

Reflections from the leaders of the International Staff Songsters since 1980

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The International Staff Songsters in 1980
Norman-Bearcroft
When asking me to form the International Staff Songsters, General Arnold Brown requested that the ‘heart songs’ of the Army should always have a place in our programmes. His request was honoured and some of our finest moments were experienced when our amazing singers presented these incomparable gems. I remember the joy, the fun and wonder of being able to proclaim the Gospel in such a wonderful way, to so many people, in so many places.
Lieut-Colonel Norman Bearcroft, the first leader of the International Staff Songsters from 1980-1992
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Major Len Ballantine, Songster leader from 1992-1998

“For me, there is nothing more compelling than a song of deep faith being sung by people of faith. It lifts our eyes heavenward and away from the cares of this earth. It reinforces our beliefs and allows us to affirm the truths of scripture. And somehow the Spirit uses this music to soften, stimulate or convict; first the singer and then the listener.

"For the ISS, their ministry is much more than a hobby or well-intentioned use of gift. It is a means to share the compelling truth of the love of Jesus with a world desperate for truth and starving for love. We see its value written into the score of our own lives, and that, in the end, is what motivates our continued song.”
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Major Peter Ayling, Songster leader from 1998-2001

“Three years in ministry with the ISS was like being caught up in a whirlwind of the Holy Spirit! It was time for an overseas tour. I approached South Africa and Zimbabwe. They readily agreed and what resulted was, for the majority, a life changing experience. The Africa Tour, as it became known, stands out as unique in both the group’s and those territories’ history - an unforgettable and fitting climax to our 20th anniversary year, which also included the unique International Choral Spectacular Concerts. I consider myself privileged and immeasurably blessed to have shared these opportunities with this remarkable group.”
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Andrew Blyth, Songster leader from 2001-2003

“The opportunity and privilege to be part of the ISS is one that I will never forget. The sense of fellowship and purpose of ministry was just as inspiring as their singing. There was never a time when I felt that they gave less than 100 per cent, whether we were singing Amazing Grace at an adult rehabilitation centre or Veni Emmanuel at the Royal Albert Hall. I am so grateful to God for the time I spent with them and the ministry they gave and continue to give. Thank you.”
Dorothy-Nancekievill-ISS-Collage
Dorothy Nancekievill, Songster leader from 2003-present

“The privilege and joy of belonging to the ISS is immeasurable. The support given to the group from all the centres we visit is both inspiring and tangible, and the energy and commitment shown by the members unsurpassed - as is their sense of humour! The spiritual quality and vitality of their singing can, and does bring people of all ages, closer to God. I can think of nothing better than to sing his praises with this wonderful group of people.”

A Choral Symphony

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International Staff Songsters

The International Staff Songsters (ISS) is at the forefront of Salvation Army vocal music making in the UK and around the world.

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Recordings of the International Staff Songsters

ISS on BBC One's Songs of Praise

Tune in to BBC One's Songs of Praise for the next two Sundays (16 and 23 August) and you will see members of the International Staff Songsters.​ 

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Wherever we go, the Songsters seek to introduce people to Christ and change lives through music

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ISS Leadership Team

Meet the leaders of the International Staff Songsters