As part of the sophomore honors presentation on how Lindsborg and Bethany College were affected by World War I, I set out to uncover how the tradition of the Messiah Festival was affected by the war more specifically. In my research, and with the help of a fellow classmate, I came across an article from The Bethany Messenger on a particularly moving concert the Bethany College Oratorio Society gave in the late spring of 1917 to soldiers training at Camp Funston.
This concert was unlike any other the Oratorio Society had ever given, ending with a performance of the well known “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” In describing the event, the Messenger article says:
Because these men were going from that camp into such a conflict, this Chorus had come to hearten them for their fight in defense of outraged humanity. When the chorus closed with ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic,’ it is certain that thousands of American soldiers had a clearer sense of what they were going to fight, and a more certain trust in the righteousness of their cause… They sat up straight and from their eyes shone the spirit of the new Crusade. They were going out into the world to make straight the highway for our God. 
There is no doubt that the Bethany College Oratorio society had a profound effect on those soldiers, young and old, who were training to fight in the world war. Even in the year that America declared war on country’s abroad, the community of Lindsborg and Bethany College stood strongly behind the tradition of the Oratorio Society, and the soldiers training at Camp Funston in the spring of 1917 were rewarded for it.
The article from The Bethany Messenger describing the concert at Camp Funston can be seen and read in its entirety below.
For more information on the Bethany College sophomore honors class project on how Lindsborg and Bethany College were affected by World War I, please visit, www.dh.bethanylb.edu.
 The Bethany Messenger, July 12, 1917.
Leave a Reply