How did “How Great Thou Art,” an obscure Swedish hymn, get covered by Elvis? How did “Just as I Am” save Johnny Cash? How did dc Talk sanctify ’90s pop rock?
In short: the Billy Graham crusades.
Music animated these evangelistic extravaganzas, all of it carefully orchestrated by the “chord of three”: celebrated preacher Billy Graham, Gospel Music Hall of Fame baritone George Beverly Shea, and choral conductor and emcee Clifford Barrows. And the crusades went on to change the larger face of American music, influencing iconic popular artists in the second half of the twentieth century. The crusade songbook also took root in churches, its use spreading beyond evangelical soil into mainline Protestant and Catholic congregations.
In Songs I Love to Sing, Edith L. Blumhofer narrates the “biographies” of some of the most beloved songs in modern hymnody with verve and affection. Move beyond mere nostalgia. Discover the fascinating stories behind the soundtrack of American Christianity.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Fernando Ortega
Editor’s Preface by Larry Eskridge
1. A Shared Purpose
2. Called Together
4. Sources and Influences
6. Guest Voices
“The genius—and that is the right word—of Edith Blumhofer’s volume is that it weaves three narrative threads into a seamless tapestry. The first is the story of Graham’s beloved soloist, George Beverly Shea. The second follows the ministry of Graham’s choir director and crusade organizer, Cliff Barrows. And the third features not Graham (as Shea quipped, Billy suffered from the ‘malady of no melody’) but rather the songs that the audiences did in fact love to sing, decade after decade. Larry Eskridge, a prize-winning historian of contemporary Christian music, has brought his own considerable skills to the completion of an already superior study. In these pages, students of Graham, Shea, Barrows, and gospel music will find their academic and spiritual interests greatly enriched.”
—Grant Wacker, author of One Soul at a Time: The Story of Billy Graham
“Christianity represents a faith to be proclaimed—both by preaching and through song. In this intriguing and informative book, Edith Blumhofer shows us how preaching and singing came together through the enormous influence of the Billy Graham crusades. Now readers can see for themselves the details behind the crusades and especially the music that shaped generations. Edith has left us a gift in Songs I Love to Sing.”
—Ed Stetzer, executive director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College
“An instructive guide to a profoundly influential chapter in American religious history, demonstrating again the pastoral significance of Holy Spirit–led songwriters and singers in evoking and sustaining faith. Some readers will hum along as they read, recalling heart songs that shaped generations of believers. Others will be introduced to entirely new musical worlds and may well be astonished by the breadth and influence of the songs and practices described here.”
—John D. Witvliet, director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship