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Recording sleeve THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB

Music by John Larsson; lyrics by John Gowans. Based on the poem General William Booth Enters Into Heaven by Vachel Lindsay


THE POEM poem depicts William Booth leading a vast procession of humanity, redeemed and 'washed in the Blood of the Lamb', in a triumphant march into Heaven. Jesus awaits them, and as they pass by they are miraculously transformed - 'the lame are straightened', 'blind eyes are opened'. and they march on spotless, clad in raiment new. As Booth halts by the kerb for prayer he sees his Master come gently with robe and crown, and he kneels 'a-weeping in that holy place'.

THE POET- Vachel Lindsay was a gifted and original American writer and poet who became famous at the age of 33 when Poetry, Chicago published his poem on Booth in 1913. The Review of Reviews described it as'perhaps the most remarkable poem of a decade'. Subsequently the poem was included in many anthologies and is probably his best-known single work. It was chief among the twenty or so of his poems which audiences demanded so often that Lindsay grew tired of reciting them.

The poem was created shortly after Booth's death, in one surging effort as the author 'walked in Los Angeles' Sixth Street Park all one frenzied night'. It reflects Lindsays earlier contacts with The Salvation Army in Springfield, Illinois, where as a youth he would often stroll down to the open-air meeting stand outside the courthouse. As his biographer, Eleanor Ruggles describes: 'The Salvation Army band, a dedicated cluster, could be heard a block away, shouting salvation into the Illinois dusk, pounding it on the kettledrum and blaring it on the trumpet as the men and women in their shabby uniforms sang:

"Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power? Are you washed in the Blood of the Lamb?" Then they knelt in a row on the courthouse grass and prayed aloud, Lindsay with them'.

Musical Numbers:

Are You Washed in the Blood of the Lamb?
I Just Know
Fancy That!
Moment by Moment
Bill Booth's Army
Strike a Light!
If the Son Has Made Us Free
There's Only One Flag For Me!
I'll Make My Promises
They Shall Come From the East
William Booth's Speech
Who Are These People?

INSTRUMENTATION

  • Trumpet I, II
  • Trombone I, II, III
  • Piano
  • Organ
  • Rhythm Guitar
  • Bass Guitar
  • Tuba
  • Percussion
  • Flute db Piccolo
  • Synthesizer

G E N E RAL W I LLIAM BOOTH ENTERS INTO HEAVEN

Booth led boldly with his big bass drum.
(Are you washed in the Blood of the Lamb?)
The saints smiled gravely, and they said, `He's come!'
(Are you washed in the Blood of the Lamb?)
Walking lepers followed, rank on rank,
Lurching bravoes from the ditches dank,
Drabs from the alleyways, and drug-fiends pale -
Minds still passion-ridden, soul-powers frail!
Vermin-eaten saints with mouldy breath,
Unwashed legions with the ways of death
(Are you washed in the Blood of the Lamb?)
 
Every slum had sent its half a score
The round world over. (Booth had groaned for more). -
Every banner that the wide world flies
Bloomed with glory and transcendent dyes.
Big-voiced lasses made their banjos bang;
Tranced, fanatical, they shrieked and sang:
Are you washed in the Blood of the Lamb?
Hallelujah! It was queer to see
Bull-necked convicts with that land make free.
Loons with trumpets blowed a blare, blare, blare
On, on, upward through the golden air.
(Are you washed in the Blood of the Lamb?)
 
Booth died blind, and still by faith he trod,
Eyes still dazzled by the ways of God.
Booth led boldly and he looked the chief:
Eagle countenance in sharp relief,
Beard a-flying, air of high command
Unabated in that holy land.
 
Jesus came from out the court-house door,
Stretched His hands above the passing poor.
Booth saw not, but led his queer ones there,
Round and round the mighty court-house square.
Yet in an instant all that blear review
Marched on spotless, clad in raiment new.
The lame were straightened, withered limbs uncurled,
And blind eyes opened on a new, sweet world.
Drabs and vixens in a flash made whole!
Gone was the weasel-head, the snout, the jowl;
Sages and sibyls now, and athletes clean,
Rulers of empires and of forest green!
 
The hosts were sandalled and their wings were fire
(Are you washed in the Blood of the Lamb?)
But their noise played havoc with the angel choir.
(Are you washed in the Blood of the Lamb?)
O shout salvation! It was good to see
Kings and princes by the Lamb set free.
The banjos rattled, and the tambourines
Jing-jing-jingled in the hands of queens.
 
And when Booth halted by the kerb for prayer
He saw his Master through the flag-filled air.
Christ came gently with a robe and crown
For Booth the soldier, while the throng knelt down.
He saw King Jesus. They were face to face,
And he knelt a-weeping in that holy place.
Are you washed in the Blood of the Lamb?

NICHOLAS VACHEL LINDSAY (1879-1931)