Use the Simpler Songs

Whenever I have been in charge of the music in evangelistic campaigns, I have made it a point to sing songs of the simpler type, drafting heavily on the good old hymns.


Whenever I have been in charge of the music in evangelistic campaigns, I have made it a point to sing songs of the simpler type, drafting heavily on the good old hymns. And when asking others to sing, I usually take the liberty of suggesting that they also sing a hymn, if feasible. Many of our listeners have not attended church for years, and they are happy to hear and recognize the old songs of their childhood.

The same principles apply to the radio. Programs of sermon and music can be made a factor either in breaking down prejudice. or in bringing unfavorable criticism and even ridicule upon the church. Personally, I like duets for the air, as they permit more flexi­bility of range, and if the voices blend well, are almost invariably well received by the radio audience.

When making out my musical program for the air, I try to keep it varied from week to week in such a way as to avoid tiring our radio audience. For instance, one Sunday night I used our large tabernacle choir for three num­bers, and I sang a solo. The following evening I used the male trio for three numbers, and had a soprano solo. For the last number I sang a stanza of "Wonderful Jesus." I always sing the theme song at the beginning of the program and sometimes at the close, using the chorus of "Sunrise." It has proved very satisfactory. Immediately following Evangelist Boothby's talk, I usually have an appropriate song with­out announcement. People always enjoy hear­ing a child sing, and if the song contains a message, it makes an attractive feature.

In broadcasting I have used comparatively little instrumental music, for various reasons. First, good instrumentalists are often scarce; and second, when time takes money, as it does  on the radio, I like to put in as much of the message as is possible in so short a period. Then, too, the ether waves today are filled with instrumental music of all kinds, some good, some bad, and it seems to me that good songs rightly sung are more appropriate on our pro­grams. Of course there are exceptions, and I use good violinists, trumpeters, or marimba players, if the opportunity presents itself. However, there is one thing I would stress, and that is we must not sacrifice quality of program in order to satisfy the vanity of some overambitious musician who desires to "sing or play on the radio" to please his friends or relatives. We must keep our programs and music up to a high standard.

Another point a program director must learn to master is adapting the numbers to the time allotted in the beginning, or the time that is left for some particular number. If five or six minutes are left on the program, and there are two numbers to be given, it is usually better to sing two stanzas of each song, than to sing three stanzas of one and one stanza of the last one. Sometimes when there is a minute and a half or two minutes left, then either one stanza and one chorus, or two stanzas and one chorus, is just what is needed. I believe that a mistake is made in broadcasting gospel music whenever the songs are drawn out by using four to six stanzas. Personally, I prefer to sing two stanzas with the choruses, or three stanzas and two choruses, depending upon the message contained in the various stanzas.

In Bakersfield and San Francisco I used my regular tabernacle choir at various times on the air, and apparently it has been greatly en­joyed. We have received a fine response to our radio program here in San Francisco, from a radius of 250 miles. Of our thirty minutes of time on the air, Evangelist Boothby uses about half for his address and announcement; and I have the remainder for music, which consists of three or four brief numbers.

San Francisco, Calif.

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January 1935

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