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History: Evangelists and Gospel Music Writers

Joe Offer 11 Nov 11 - 03:34 AM
Joe Offer 11 Nov 11 - 03:51 AM
Chris in Portland 11 Nov 11 - 09:20 AM
Joe Offer 11 Nov 11 - 03:04 PM
GUEST,pete from seven stars link 11 Nov 11 - 03:43 PM
Joe Offer 11 Nov 11 - 04:12 PM
Chris in Portland 11 Nov 11 - 05:55 PM
Nathan in Texas 11 Nov 11 - 08:23 PM
Haruo 11 Nov 11 - 09:10 PM
Chris in Portland 12 Nov 11 - 12:09 PM
GUEST,pete from seven stars link 12 Nov 11 - 06:40 PM
Haruo 13 Nov 11 - 07:39 PM
Arkie 13 Nov 11 - 09:00 PM
Haruo 14 Nov 11 - 03:15 PM
Desert Dancer 14 Nov 11 - 10:57 PM
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Subject: Evangelists and Gospel Music Writers
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Nov 11 - 03:34 AM

I've been reading a book by historian Garry Wills titled Head and Heart: American Christianities, a study of the history of Christianity in the United States. Any such study must include the stories of the evangelists who have been so popular through American history - and many of those stories are interesting and colorful.

Wills says that for an evangelist to be successful, he/she has to be backed by a good musician.Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899) may well have been the father of Fundamentalism. He founded the schools that became the Moody Bible Institute and the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (now Biola University). He was backed by Ira D. Sankey (1840-1908).

Billy Sunday (1862-1935) was a baseball player turned evangelist. He was known to use his athletic prowess to jump all over the stage while he was preaching, and was reputed to be similar in style to but more entertaining than George M. Cohan. Billy Sunday was backed by Homer Rodeheaver, who had previously backed evangelist William E. Biederwolf.

Fanny Crosby (1820-1915) was the most prolific gospel songwriter of all. Though blind, she wrote over 8,000 hymns. Crosby was a Methodist, not tied to any particular evangelist. Wikipedia says Crosby is honored with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America on February 11.

At the present time, Bill Gaither and his wife Gloria serve as both musicians and evangelists, and their music is everywhere.

Can anyone else add to a historical-musical perspective of evangelists and gospel musicians?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Evangelists and Gospel Music Writers
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Nov 11 - 03:51 AM

Thomas A. Dorsey (1899-1993) was known as the father of Black gospel music. I suppose Dorsey is best known for Precious Lord, Take My Hand, but he wrote many other well-known hymns - Peace in the Valley is a good one, and this link will lead to others that have been posted here at Mudcat.

I don't think Dorsey was ever tied to any particular evangelist. He was the music director at Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago from 1932 until the late 1970s.


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Subject: RE: History: Evangelists and Gospel Music Writers
From: Chris in Portland
Date: 11 Nov 11 - 09:20 AM

Joe, I've been working on how Welsh and American gospel music went back and force between the US and Wales. Since the Welsh, of course, love great church music, they were bowled over by Moody and Sankey when they came to the UK. Sankey granted only one exception and allowed a number of his and other gospel hymns in his songbooks to be translated into Welsh. Some of the Welsh translations of US hymns are now so Welsh the Welsh have forgotten the US origins. In addition to Moody in Chicago around 1900, there was minister, musician and college president Frank Gunsaulus, who started the mega-Central Church in the still-standing Auditorium Theatre. His music director was the famous Welsh musician, Daniel Protheroe, who put together one of the first hymnals with both Welsh and English lyrics for each hymn. Much of the tradition of easy to sing hymns came out of the Welsh and American revival traditions that began around 1860 and continued up to WWI. Evan Roberts, who started one of the Welsh revivals, also teamed up with Gypsy Smith, another great-named revivalist in the Billy Sunday tradition. Both made gospel singing a major part of their programs. There is an amazing amount of material on all this in Google Books!
Chris


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Subject: RE: History: Evangelists and Gospel Music Writers
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Nov 11 - 03:04 PM

Hi, Chris-
That point about making hymns easy to sing is an important one, and a major reason for the success of Sankey, Rodeheaver, and Crosby. Their hymns were actually fun to sing, and large groups of people could sing them with gusto.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: History: Evangelists and Gospel Music Writers
From: GUEST,pete from seven stars link
Date: 11 Nov 11 - 03:43 PM

i would think the greatest partnership of brit origin would be john wesley and his hymwriting brother charles-one prolific in sermons,-the other in music.
sorry just reread 1st post but thought i,d mention them anyway-though i think he did visit the US.


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Subject: RE: History: Evangelists and Gospel Music Writers
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Nov 11 - 04:12 PM

I think a thread like this should have information about John and Charles Wesley, Pete. Want to work something up?
Their hymns and their Methodist Church were certainly a big part of the American Evangelical movement.
There were Methodist revival resorts along the Mid-Atlantic coast of the U.S. in the 19th centuries, and singing and modest bathing were two of the primary activities. Did they sing the songs of the Wesleys, or did they sing the more popular "gospel" songs?
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: History: Evangelists and Gospel Music Writers
From: Chris in Portland
Date: 11 Nov 11 - 05:55 PM

More recently, too, there is Billy Graham and George Beverly Shea. Wiki says "According to the Guinness Book of Records Shea holds the world record for singing in person to the most people ever, with an estimated cumulative live audience of 220 million people."

With regard to "easy to sing," the Welsh revivals sparked the great tradition of the Gymanfa Ganu (an all-day hymn-singing assembly for all comers). Originally, the gymanfa hymns were the easier ones, but with time and the growth of Welsh choirs, the gymanfa hymns became 4-part masterpieces, but, for me at least, very difficult to sing without practice.

Would it be correct to say that the shape note hymns have kept to the more basic, gospel arrangements, even though multi-part?

On a side note, no pun, the tradition of English pub carols came from the simpler hymns, derived often from folk melodies, that were sung in English churches, and then pushed out to the pubs by the more sophisticated carols of Victorian times that we sing today. A similar folk tradition in Wales, plygain carols, almost died out, but has been revived in recent times with help from many, including our own Sian Toronto.

Chris


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Subject: RE: History: Evangelists and Gospel Music Writers
From: Nathan in Texas
Date: 11 Nov 11 - 08:23 PM

Philip P. Bliss, was a gospel soloist with Evangelist Daniel W. Whittle in the years following the Civil War. Before his life was cut short in a train wreck at aged 38, Bliss wrote over 60 gospel songs, many of which are still sung today. These include "Almost Persuaded," "Hallelujah! What A Savior" "Dare to Be A Daniel," "Jesus Loves Even Me," "Hold the Fort," "Let the Lower Lights Be Burning," and "Wonderful Words of Life."

A week before Bliss' death, he had written to his friend James McGranahan, encouraging him to go into gospel music rather than opera, as he had planned. On Bliss' death McGranahan followed his suggestion and his footsteps and replaced Bliss as Whittle's soloist. He became a hymn lyricist and composer in his own right, writing the music to such standards as "There Shall Be Showers of Blessing," "My Redeemer," "I Shall be Satisfied," "The Crowning Day," "O, How Love I Thy Law, and "The Banner of the Cross," and both the words and music for "Verily, Verily," and "Go Ye into All the World."

Nathan


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Subject: RE: History: Evangelists and Gospel Music Writers
From: Haruo
Date: 11 Nov 11 - 09:10 PM

One difference between, say, Sankey and Crosby is that Sankey was primarily a tunesmith, while Crosby (though a gifted composer and harpist) was primarily a lyricist. The distinction between text author and tune author needs to be paid close attention in this thread. Bliss very frequently wrote both text and tune, though occasionally he wrote a tune for someone else or a text for another's tune.

Haruo


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Subject: RE: History: Evangelists and Gospel Music Writers
From: Chris in Portland
Date: 12 Nov 11 - 12:09 PM

Nathan, the gospel songs of Sankey, Bliss and others are certainly great, and so are the stories of their lives. It is also great that the internet now lets me read these stories - Sankey in a boat in Lake Michigan riding out the Chicago Fire, Bliss dying in the train accident trying to save his wife, and on and on. It is also great that the ripples these folks started are still going today.
Also, interestingly, Sankey permitted Watcyn Wyn to do the only translation of songs from his book (into Welsh), because his wife had Welsh roots. If not for that, some of those famous "Welsh" gymanfa hymns would never had made it to Wales!
Chris


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Subject: RE: History: Evangelists and Gospel Music Writers
From: GUEST,pete from seven stars link
Date: 12 Nov 11 - 06:40 PM

thanks for the vote of confidence joe.not informed enough to contribute much but a few items.
i love the simple gospel songs but i would suggest that the wesley hymns are greater in lyrical content-amounting to theology in poetry IMO,something i aim for in much of my writing in my own small way.
i believe methodism was started by wesleys successors and john remained anglican.however he was refused the pulpit and preached in the open air to large crowds.he was apparently not fiery and yet sometimes people would fall over as they "came under conviction"unlke the excesses of some current charismatics who emotionalize their audiences.
any not familiar with the hymns,i suggest -and can it be.


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Subject: RE: History: Evangelists and Gospel Music Writers
From: Haruo
Date: 13 Nov 11 - 07:39 PM

Chris, did you mean the only translations or the only Welsh translations? I mean, Sankey certainly authorized other translations, such as Rauschenbusch's German version, of his songs.

Haruo


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Subject: RE: History: Evangelists and Gospel Music Writers
From: Arkie
Date: 13 Nov 11 - 09:00 PM

The Wesley's hymns were an intricate part of their evangelism of miners and others in the open air gatherings available to them at the time. Charles was the more prominent writer, but John also did write hymns. They also used popular melodies of their day and received some criticism for that. Supposedly, Wesley's reply was why should the devil have all the good music or something to that effect.

While George Beverly Shea was an essential part of the Billy Graham team, he was primarily a singer and song leader if I remember correctly. I do not recall any hymns that he composed. Could be wrong there though.

On another track is the songwriters attached to songbook publishers such as Stamps-Baxter, James D. Vaughan, Hartford, etc. I picked up a Stamps Baxter songbook and was looking at the title page and noted publishing sites in Dallas, Memphis, and Pangburn. Pangburn is a tiny town about 40 miles or so from where I live here in Arkansas. The reason it was put on the same level as Dallas and Memphis is that it was home to Luther Presley who supposedly wrote several thousand songs. Albert Brumley was associated with Hartford and I believe an owner or part owner at one time. These publishers sponsored quartets who traveled about to churches and camp meetings to sell songbooks.

Interesting topic.


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Subject: RE: History: Evangelists and Gospel Music Writers
From: Haruo
Date: 14 Nov 11 - 03:15 PM

The only well-known songs by Shea that I can think of offhand are "The wonder of it all" (©1956 or 1957), both words and music, and the music end of "I'd rather have Jesus"; the words are by an otherwise unknown to me Rhea Miller, the tune by George Beverly (I almost typed Bernard) Shea. The tune is © 1939, but the lyrics (1922) are out of copyright.

There's an interesting, pertinent article in the current issue of The Hymn about McKinney and Simpson and their songs.

Haruo


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Subject: RE: History: Evangelists and Gospel Music Writers
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 14 Nov 11 - 10:57 PM

Chris in Portland asks: "Would it be correct to say that the shape note hymns have kept to the more basic, gospel arrangements, even though multi-part?"

Shape note hymn arrangements are a mostly historical form, predating what you mostly likely would think of as "gospel" style. There are 20th and 21st century shape note songs, but they are written in the style which really comes out of the 18th century. I wouldn't say that the shape note style is particularly easy. It is less chordal than later hymn arrangements; the melodies of each part are more independent of one another than our modern ear is used to. It also includes "fugueing" tunes, which are not particularly simple and which I don't believe appear in more modern hymn-writing. (Please correct me if I'm wrong.) There are some "camp meeting" songs that were absorbed into the Sacred Harp and other shape note collections that are more "normal" and straightforward to sing.

The Wikipedia description here is pretty good: Origins of the music, although it doesn't really compare or contrast with other styles. Also see the Wikipedia entry Sacred Harp hymnwriters and composers.

I don't know about any connections of the genre with particular evangelists, but I'm someone who has come to shape note singing as a folk singer, not from a religious background. Maybe some others in this discussion will recognize some of the composers mentioned in the second Wikipedia article I've linked -- ?

~ Becky in Tucson


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