Lena Wickberg and Marie Hagén are members of Source of Joy, a Gospel choir based in Stockholm, Sweden. They elaborate on the strong and vibrant Gospel scene in their native country, in this article in the series titled Gospel Around The World.
Gospel music came to Sweden in the late 60's by a church musician from "Jesusrörelsen" (the Jesus Movement organisation) who went to the United States, heard the music and brought it back home to Sweden.
Singing in choirs is very popular in Sweden and the Gospel scene is no exception. After the USA, Sweden is probably the second biggest Gospel country in the world. In the capitol of Stockholm alone, there are probably up to 100 active choirs at any given time.
Most of the Gospel choirs in Sweden, although they are organised by Christian churches, are open to non-Christians (or even atheists) who appreciate the energy, groove and joy in the music.
Gospel music is still growing in Sweden, and is developing with new musicians, singers and songwriters. We have created a sound of our own that is a mixture of the American Gospel style and Swedish music. The Swedish language, with its softer sound, means that the Swedish Gospel sound is lighter than that coming from American artists.
Like other Christian churches in Sweden, The Salvation Army has had a number of different Gospel choirs crop up over the last ten years or so. One of the first of these is Source of Joy, from the Salvation Army South Corps in Stockholm.
When Source of Joy first began in 1993, it was called "SA Gospel Company" at the then Salvation Army Seventh Corps (later Stockholm South).
The choir is a part of the Salvation Army and we make our home at the SA Stockholm South Corps in Sweden. Many of the choir members are Salvationists, but there are plenty of people from other churches too, and a fair number who don't have any contact with Christians or any kind of Christian life except through Source of Joy. It's important to us to keep the spiritual side of our activities alive, and we have devotions every rehearsal and before every concert.
Most of our concerts and performances take place in and around Stockholm, and mostly at the Salvation Army or other churches. In the summer we have quite a few open-air concerts, too. We've also been able to go on tour abroad a few times: to England in 1998, USA in 2000 and Norway in 2002. We intend to tour England again in 2003.
We enjoy singing with other Gospel choirs on various projects and we often join others in concert. For example, recently eight Gospel choirs from the southern part of Stockholm gave a combined open-air concert at Medborgarplatsen, a busy meeting place in the heart of that part of the city.
SoJ (as we all call the choir for short pronounced like the English word "soy") has recorded three CDs: Magnify Jesus in 1997, God Is With Us (recorded in anticipation of our USA tour) in 2000, and Source of Joy Live at Stockholm South in 2002. The third and latest one is a live recording from a concert at our Corps all the way back in December 2000. For various reasons we weren't able to release it until almost 18 months later, but it was well worth the wait, in our opinion!
The choir has gone through some trials, but experience has taught us that we function best when we keep focusing on why we're singing in the first place. This is why the choir motto is "God is with us". We have learned that when we dare to let go and lean on God, that He's always there to catch and to support us. The harder things seem, the more we need to trust in Him and the more we trust in Him, the more He blesses us.
Members, musicians and even leaders have come and gone over the years, but the basis of the choir is still the same: we want to be a community, a sort of family, where everybody can feel at home, and where everybody is welcome to join us in praising the Lord.
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