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Edith L. Blumhofer

Teoksen Aimee Semple McPherson: Everybody's Sister tekijä

20+ teosta 464 jäsentä 6 arvostelua

Tietoja tekijästä

Edith L. Blumhofer is professor of history and director of the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals at Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.

Tekijän teokset

MODERN CHRISTIAN REVIVALS (1993) 21 kappaletta

Associated Works

Liberal Arts for the Christian Life (2012) — Avustaja, eräät painokset121 kappaletta

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Summary: A history of the ministry of Billy Graham, focused on the music, the key roles of Cliff Barrows and George Beverly Shea, and the wider influence of the musical practices of the Crusades.

On Sunday evenings as a youth, I remember listening to The Hour of Decision with my father on an old Bakelite radio. We would gather around the television when his Crusades began to be broadcast on TV. I attended crusades in Cleveland in 1972 and Columbus in 1993. At least twice, I remember associate evangelists Lane Adams and Leighton Ford conducting Crusades in Youngstown and I was a counselor for the latter event. While Graham or his associate was the “main event,” I remember how much music was a part of those crusades. My father loved listening to George Beverly Shea singing “How Great Thou Art.” And when the choir began singing “Just As I Am” we felt the impulse to come to Jesus and watched as droves of people did.

The late Edith L. Blumhofer left this work in manuscript form at the time of her death, edited for publication by Larry Eskridge. She studied Graham’s Crusades through the lens of the music surrounding Graham’s messages, the team of people who worked together for sixty years, the thought that went into every aspect of Crusade music and the impact of that music on evangelical worship more widely.

Blumhofer begins by tracing the steps that brought the trio of Graham, Shea, and Barrows together, offering mini-biographies of each, especially valuable in the case of Shea and Barrows. Graham understood the power of spirit-filled singing to complement his preaching, and the two others set aside independent careers to work together to develop the music and musical philosophy that became a notable feature of every crusade. And Graham desperately needed them, suffering as Shea quipped, “the malady of no melody.”

What was fascinating was how deliberate the choice of music was, whether hymns like those of Fanny Crosby, or the gospel songs. They drew on the history of Moody’s partnership with Ira Sankey as well as living models like Homer Rodeheaver. Blumhofer also goes into the history of a number of songs including Shea’s signature “I’d Rather Have Jesus” and his tussles with the composer as he changed the melody and several words. She also recounts the circuitous history of “How Great Thou Art” from Sweden to Estonia to Russia, and to this country and the pen of Stuart Hine. Again, the Crusades tweaked a few words, and the impact of Crusades was evident in that wording becoming the way most people remember the song, much to Hine’s displeasure. We also learn of Charlotte Elliott, who wrote the words of “Just As I Am” and how it enjoyed the favor of Moody long before it became the song that invariably accompanied invitations at the Crusades.

Blumhofer discusses the increasing inclusion of celebrities beginning with Stuart Hamblen, the “Singing Cowboy,” Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, and Johnny Cash, and Ethel Waters. Celebrities both needed to have a genuine Christian testimony and were selected for their ability to be a draw in particular venues. Later on, the early Seventies brought the Jesus Movement and the first Contemporary Christian artists. Graham’s appearance with them at Explo ’72 and his incorporation of artists from Michael W. Smith to dc Talk both broadened the appeal of Crusades for younger audiences and put Graham’s imprimateur on the CCM movement that transformed worship in evangelical Protestant churches.

The book concludes withe a coda, the last Crusade, in New York in 2005 that combined the mainstays of mass choir, Barrow, Shea, and Graham, as well as a host of contemporary musicians. It reflected all the ways the Crusades had influenced evangelical worship, from hymns like “Blessed Assurance” and “Great is Thy Faithfulness” to gospel songs to Contemporary Christian Music. The power of this music, coupled with gospel preaching, to move people to response was one drawn upon widely.

Blumhofer alludes only in passing to accusations that the music could be emotionally manipulative. Since this is more a history than a social psychological study, this is worth more careful study. There have been a number of discussions about the disparities between “decisions” and the number who go on as disciples incorporated in churches. Might the evocative elements of the music have played a role in this? How ought music be used in both evangelism and Christian worship and what are the boundaries between God-honoring musical witness and worship and emotional manipulation? What does seem clear from this account is that Barrows, and Shea and their team, with Graham’s blessing, modelled a deliberateness in the musical aspects of Crusades that was a key factor in their impact, both on attendees and on the wider Christian culture. Blumhofer’s work might well serve as the basis for others to explore these matters in greater depth. But it also is a gift to many of us who grew up in these years to recall, perhaps with great gratitude and affection, the music we loved to sing and its impact on our lives.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher.
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