- Remembering the Christian music pioneer and what he means to today’s worship.
[dropcap]A[/dropcap] man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before great men. Prov 18:16 (NASB)
I’ve had many tears and sorrows,
I’ve had questions for tomorrow,
There have been times I didn’t know right from wrong.
But in every situation,
God gave me blessed consolation,
That my trials came to only make me strong.
Through it all,
Through it all,
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus,
I’ve learned to trust in God.
Through it all,
Through it all,
I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.
Andraé Crouch didn’t study music; he simply started playing. He often related, “…how his piano-playing was literally God-given when he was a child. Andraé’s dad prayed for him and within one week Andraé was playing piano like a pro.”
To God be the Glory
Because Andraé was dyslexic, he could not easily read or memorize music and lyrics and had to draw pictures and symbols as a reminder and guide through songs. He said in an interview with the Associated Press in 2011, “I memorized everything through sight, the shape of the word… Some things that I write, you’ll see a page with cartoon pictures or a drawing of a car — like a Ford — or a flag. I still do it on an occasion when a word is strange to me… So when I finish a song, I thank God for bringing me through.”
Someone utilizing the standard means of testing and assigning a percentile to young children in the 1940s projecting their chances for success might have missed Andraé’s potential for unending creativity and the ability to arrange complex scores. They might not have envisioned that someday he would create award-winning songs and albums for iconic artists, score major motion pictures, and stage presentations, gathering awards across creative platforms, cultures, styles, and generations. Could they in their most far-reaching imaginations think that he would collaborate with God and a handful of other pioneering artists to change the sound and reach of contemporary Church music and even the way church services are structured?
Through it all
And dyslexia wasn’t the only roadblock or difficulty: the death of his parents, other family members and friends, numerous bouts of cancer, diabetes, and pushback from a cadre of pastors, as well as being under the media microscope added to challenges that seemed to feed rather than thwart his talents. Andraé gives all artists hope that God’s gift accompanied by his grace is greater than any natural or human limitation, and can stand against every voice, negative expectation, loss, and opposition.
What it’s all about
He was a visionary and a catalytic creative voice at a time of cultural and musical change. He has been called the Father of Modern Gospel. Andraé, with his amazing talent seemed to know that the radius of creativity included artists and influences from all sides, times, and genres. He was generous and loved sharing the spotlight with others, creating opportunities where their talent and gifts could shine. He was a good listener and had a way of finding/attracting and gathering the most refreshing and accomplished artists to collaborate on groundbreaking and original music that encompassed pop, gospel, R&B, rock, and a confluence of other musical influences.
We are blessed that Andraé was born a twin, because he knew how to graciously share space. He knew the sound of more than one voice, even before he was born. On the cutting-edge of a trend towards fusing styles, he bridged cultural, and faith traditions merging pop music with “church” music to create an accessibility and entry into the church for the unchurched or anti-church. In the tradition of Thomas Dorsey, Ira Sankey, and going back farther to the likes of other iconoclasts such as Handel and St. Francis, he gave music space to breathe. He utilized the full spectrum of musical possibility and function: aesthetic, revelational, emotional, mood-setting, engagement, enjoyment, movement and text enhancing. In not confining worship to certain forms, he opened the door for those both inside and outside the church to experience God and the truth about him in songs such as “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power,” “My Tribute (To God Be the Glory),” “Soon and Very Soon,” and “Let the Church Say Amen.” While pastors will continue to discuss whether he made the sanctuary more worldly, or the world more holy, one thing is certain, Andraé and his music will not soon be forgotten.
David M. Edwards and Tommy Walker, both longtime contributors to and friends of Worship Leader magazine offered tributes to their friend and mentor.
“Prior to his passing, Andraé Crouch had already left an indelible mark on Christian music as well as the Church-at-large. God used his music and Spirit-filled message to bridge racial and cultural divides in ways that no one prior to or since has been able to accomplish. He opened the door for other artists who believed with Andraé that love has no color and musical genres cannot be defined by race alone. Each of his recorded projects had many distinct characteristics – some of which were Christ’s Second Coming, heaven and the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer – aspects often missing in much of Christian music today. He reminded his audience that we were responsible to share our faith with those around us and to do it with the joy that is only found in Jesus Christ. Andraé told me once, “I’ve always tried to help people and love people no matter where they came from.” As he sang many times, “Jesus IS the answer for the world today!” The man and the message were one and the same.
– David M. Edwards
To me Andraé Crouch was our modern day worship leader/songwriter number one. Before him [for the most part] there was either singing from hymnals or people doing special music in church. He engaged people to participate in worship in a way that wasn’t really seen before, and he did it with his own songs that were both worshipful and oh so musically special. That’s what I’ve been trying to do my whole life and Andraé was certainly at the top of my list when it comes to effluence and inspiration. And that’s not even the best part, God has touched me time and time again on the deepest level through Andraé Crouch’s songs, and for that I am truly eternally grateful.
I got to write a “heaven” song called “Someday” with him that is on my Living in the Wonder album, so it makes grieving his loss very bittersweet for me. I just have to remember—he only got a tiny little head start on the heavenly worship service that we will all be a part of!
– Tommy Walker
The Lamb has brought us home
Although he sang and wrote songs of God’s power to save and redeem here on earth, there were many powerful gospel choruses and hymns over the years that looked forward to that time when he would see the Lord face to face and be reunited with his departed love ones. They say if you don’t know where you’re going you probably won’t get there. Well, Andraé Crouch new exactly where he was headed.
Anybody wanna know
Where I’m going
Tell ’em, I am
Tell ’em, I’m heaven bound…
My new home
Over in glory
Tell ’em, I am heaven bound