Buglers were used on the battlefields of old before the advent of other means of communication – like radios. The British Military has a long tradition of their use and one of the most significant carriers of that tradition are the Rifles whose cap-badge is a bugle and whose histories can be traced to the late 18th Century.
They were not, however, the first to come up with the idea of communicating in this way. Other earlier civilisations like the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans and also the Hebrew armies, used them as a means of communicating the Commanders intent, in the control of troops in the field, and to regulate daily routine in camp. The bugle was very effective at cutting through the din of battle, especially following the development of more mobile troops, particularly the Rifles element of the Light Infantry, like the 60th and the 95th Regiments. Now these traditions remain only ceremonially.
In the popular fiction, ‘The Lord of the Rings’ much use is made of horns, which act as a rallying call and stirs up hope among the different people groups that make up Middle Earth, each knows intimately the sound of their own horn. Likewise with Christians, as Jesus says:
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me”John 10:27
In many historic accounts in the Bible we see trumpets used often, for example: by Joshua’s army against the walls of Jericho; we see the Hebrews of the Exodus commanded not to come up the mountain until they heard the trumpet; we see Gideon signalling the attack with a trumpet call against the Midianite Camp; we see Nehemiah at the walls of Jerusalem using trumpets to rally aid when and where needed, and there are many other examples.
“When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.”Exodus 19:13
Perhaps the most significant use is for the return of the Lord Jesus, announced,
“…from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God.”1 Thessalonians 4:16
This will be the ultimate bugle call of all time and while life often feels like a battleground, we are actually able to live through it with real hope. We can live with this hope because we know that one day, we will be with the Lord Jesus, if we believe in and follow Him. When the final call of heaven comes, the consummation of all our hopes, dreams and longing will all be satisfied.
The next time you hear a bugle on the parade ground or watch Lord of the Rings, remember that God is calling all of us to Himself – will you obey the call? Because:
“Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.”Romans 10:13