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Fire a what?!

We don’t seem to fire volleys as much as we used to. This may not be a bad thing, but I wonder if we simply need to repurpose it to bring it back into vogue.


For those new to the Army and wondering what I’m talking about, in the early days of the Army, sometimes during a Sunday meeting, someone would call out, “Fire a volley!” and the congregation would enthusiastically reply, “Hallelujah!”.


If the mood really called for it, someone would then call out, “And another!” and again the reply would come, “Hallelujah!”. It served as a rallying cry to offer some encouragement and support to what was taking place – a way of ‘charging up the troops’ – and was generally used after a rousing song.


As a quirk of Army custom, it continued to be popular through the 1970s but then began to peter out as an anachronistic eccentricity. Having said that, you’ll still hear it called out occasionally, especially at more traditional corps. Long-time Salvationists will smile and call out “Hallelujah!” while new attendees will go wide-eyed and wonder what sort of militaristic cult they’ve joined.


As I mentioned, I think we need to repurpose it so that Salvationists continue to fire volleys well into the future.


My first suggestion is to call on it at times of road rage. If someone cuts you off in traffic or beeps their horn at you aggressively, don’t swear at them or curse, just yell, “Fire a volley!”. It will let you release some adrenaline, and it sounds like a suitably angry response without letting you slip into using profanities. The other driver will think he’s about to be fired on and hastily leave the scene.


Similarly, you can use it whenever you have a need to blow off some steam. If you stub your toe or drop your coffee or step on some Lego – just yell, “Fire a volley!” and move on with your day.


I’m also thinking – while not being a regular occasion for most of us – it would be a suitable thing to call out while cheering at a tennis match. For example, after watching a long, boring rally at the Australian Open, call out, “Fire a volley!”. No one will blink at such good strategic advice, and if you hear someone else reply, “Hallelujah”, you can wave to them and greet a fellow Salvationist.


Mind you, there are probably times when it isn’t appropriate to fire a volley. Like when your wife’s just given birth. Or when you’re cheering at an Anzac Day parade with lots of old people with post-traumatic stress. Or at a cremation … especially if you have an Austrian accent and the deceased’s name is Wally.


So be discerning. Volleys can’t just be fired off left, right and centre; they’re to be used responsibly. Perhaps every now and then, corps officers can try one mid-sermon, just to wake everyone up.


– Major Mal Davies and his wife Major Tracey are the Corps Officers at Adelaide City Salvos


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