Buglers were used on the battlefields of old before the advent of other means of communication, like the radio, were brought into use. The British Military has a long tradition of their use and one of the most significant carriers of that tradition are the Rifles Regiment, whose cap-badge is a bugle and whose histories can be traced to the late 18th Century.
You may be surprised to learn that they were not the first to come up with the idea of communicating in this way. Other earlier civilisations were doing it long before we were – the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans; 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. Now these traditions only remain ceremonially.
Today, the church still uses bells as a call to worship, signifying God calling people to Himself. The popular fiction, ‘The Lord of the Rings’ makes much use of horns, used as a rallying call by the different people groups that make up Middle Earth, each knowing intimately the sound of their own horn.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me”John 10:27
In the Bible we see trumpets used against the walls of Jericho (Joshua 6:1-5); we see that the Hebrews were commanded not to come up the mountain until they heard the trumpet (Exodus 19:10f); we see Gideon signalling the attack with a trumpet call against the Midianite camp (Judges 7:17f); we see Nehemiah at the walls of Jerusalem using trumpets to rally aid when and where needed (Nehemiah 4:20), and 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 in Revelations: we see voice of Jesus like the sound of trumpets; we see the seven trumpet calls bringing judgements upon the earth and ultimately we await 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-trumpet-clarion call of all time, signifying the end of all our hope – for those that are in-Christ – to be with Him for ever.
“I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.”Ephesians 1:18
While life can often feel like a battleground – with all its ups and downs and struggles – we can live with real hope, knowing that one day, we will be with our Lord Jesus when the consummation of all our hopes are finally satisfied. This is real hope: to live today knowing a better day is coming! The next time you hear a bugle on the parade square, watch Lord of the Rings or hear the church bells ring, remember in Whom our hope lies and wait patiently for Him.