Hallelujah Lassies

“Hallelujah Lassies” was a term coined for Salvation Army women that preached the gospel in the mid 1800’s. One woman in particular helped pioneered this…..

elizaEliza Shirley – Salvation Army Pioneer

Born in 1863 Eliza Shirley was raised to be a proper Victorian young lady in 19th Century England. Though trained in all the manners and customs to become a lady of the manor, Eliza longed for more than an ordinary middle class life.

Growing up in Coventry , England , as a young girl Eliza spent hours memorizing sermons preached by her father, a part-time minister. When she was fifteen years old, the Salvation Army marched into her hometown and began a work led by women preachers that came to be known as “Hallelujah Lassies”. In true Salvation Army fashion, these ladies held open-air meetings in poor neighborhoods in many cases in front of taverns. Their mission? To reach the poorest of the poor, whom no one else cared about, with the saving message of Jesus Christ.

Eliza was so affected by the preaching of these women that she dedicated her life to God’s service and wanted to become a Salvation Army worker. Since she was a mere fifteen years old at the time, her parents, who also took part in Salvation Army meetings, asked her to withhold any decision regarding joining the Hallelujah Lassies until her sixteenth birthday.

After she turned sixteen, Eliza was summoned by William Booth, General of the Salvation Army to discuss her entry into full time service with the group. Eliza accepted a post in Bishop Aukland, a coal mining village in Northern England.

hallelujah lassies

At her new post Eliza joined Annie Allspop to evangelize the area. They lived in impoverished conditions among the poor of the village, getting most of their food from keeping what was thrown at them at the open-air meetings. Most of the money taken in offerings to be used to help with the work was stolen by the crowds before it reached them. Though times were hard, these two pretty, petite girls reached this rough-and-tumble village for God. They saw God move in that village in a powerful way as even the worst men were converted to Christ during their meetings. They remained faithful to the work, and lives were changed.

Retiring in Chicago, she became an ardent fan of the Chicago Cubs. As Eliza was on her deathbed, the Cubs were in the final games of the World Series. She drifted in and out of consciousness, alternately praying and asking how the Cubs were doing. When word came that Eliza Symmonds had been promoted to glory, there was a moment of silence in the stadium in honor of this gallant lady.


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