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Fall 1993 · Vol. 22 No. 2 · pp. 72–74 

Recommended Reading

A Church Musician's Basic Library

Jonah C. Kliewer

In church music the greatest urgency seems now to be in three areas: 1) Theology and church music; 2) Hymnology; and 3) Technical aspects of singing and playing.


Five books which have been issued in the last three decades are each from a different camp of the evangelical church.

Wiersbe, Warren W. Real Worship: It Will Transform Your Life. Oliver Nelson, 1986. 191 pp.

Wiersbe, recognized as a leading voice in evangelical church circles, knows the way worship has been done in the evangelical church. He describes his own dramatic pilgrimage in understanding worship. Although from a background similar to Mennonite Brethren, Wiersbe finds support in Scripture for a position which embraces liturgy and ritual.

Routley, Eric. Words, Music, and the Church: The Drama of Worship in a Changing Society. Nashville: Abingdon, 1968. 224 pp.

Routley, primarily a theologian, was also a practicing musician whose printed works in both areas are many. Routley strips away the layers of myth, of tradition, and of misinformation which often distort views in church music. He gives attention to practical aspects of church music such as the use of instruments in worship, approaches to new musical idioms in worship, and the use of drama in worship.

Johansson, Calvin M. Music and Ministry: A Biblical Counterpoint. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1984. 138 pp.

Discipling Music Ministry: Twenty-First Century Directions. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1992. 169 pp.

Johansson is professor of music at Evangel College in Springfield, MO, a conservative, evangelical institution. His approach should commend itself to most Mennonite Brethren church musicians. His is a scholarly work. {73}

In Discipling Music Ministry, Johansson “challenges pastors and church musicians to think again about how and when church music truly glorifies God and edifies human beings.”

Best, Harold M. Music Through the Eyes of Faith. San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1993. 225 pp.

Harold Best is longtime dean of the conservatory of music at Wheaton College. This book was commissioned by the Christian College Coalition; although it primarily addresses educators, it has several chapters that speak to the current malaise in church music. Chapter titles such as “Issues in Musical Quality,” “The World of Christian Popular Music,” and “Music and the Worshipping Church,” should pique the interest of serious church musicians.


Bailey, Albert Edward. The Gospel in Hymns. New York: Charles Scribner’s, 1950. 600 pp.

Although out of print, this is an unsurpassed classic in hymnology. It contains the history of selected hymns and interesting anecdotes associated with many hymns. It reviews all the major hymnic eras of the Western Church; special emphasis is given to the development of the hymn in England and in America.

Reynolds, William J. and Price, Milburn. A Survey of Christian Hymnody. Carol Stream, IL: Hope, 1987. 301 pp.

A relatively brief history of hymnody in the West as well as an addendum on 155 illustrative hymns, which accurately represents a cross section of the active hymn repertoire of American churches. Addresses recent influences which affect hymnody.

Eskew, Harry, and McElrath, Hugh T. Sing with Understanding. Nashville: Broadman, 1980. 331 pp.

Useful because it explores in greater detail the hymn as literature, as music, as theology and its relations to Scripture. Includes traditions and cultural perspectives in hymnology which are excluded in other studies.

Parker, Alice. Melodious Accord: Good Singing in Church. Chicago, IL: Liturgy Training, 1991. 122 pp.

The observations and suggestions in this small volume are immediately applicable to churches which embrace good congregational singing. This book would work well in conjunction with a video just released by Alice Parker, “Shall We Gather--Singing Hymns with Alice Parker,” which features Ms. Parker leading a hymn workshop at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries, in Elkhart, Indiana.

Hustad, Donald P. Jubilate: Church Music in the Evangelical Tradition. Carol Stream, IL: Hope, 1981. 368 pp.

Hustad was raised in the conservative Evangelical church music tradition. Some chapter titles: “Music and Renewal in the Church,” “The Drama of Worship for Contemporary Evangelicals,” “Music in Services of Evangelism and Fellowship,” and “Evangelical and Music for Soloists.” The review of the worship practices of the church from the first to the twentieth century is also concise and helpful.


Owens, Jimmy, and Owens, Carol. Words and Music: A Guide to Writing, Selecting, and Enjoying Christian Songs. Dallas, TX: Word, 1984. 368 pp.

This volume approaches songwriting as a craft and suggests innovative ways of looking at the text. Jimmy Owens, well-known in the pop Christian music business, is active in the evangelical church. Though his musical idiom may not suit everyone, the principles which he presents are applicable to most musical idioms.

Decker, Harold A., and Herford, Julius, Ed. Choral Conducting: A Symposium. Old Tappan, NJ: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1973. 251 pp.

A book for choral conductors who are already quite familiar with the elementary details of the craft but who wish to become more proficient in shaping a choral unit, conducting more efficient rehearsals, and preparing a new score with greater confidence.


The Hymn, A Journal of Congregational Song (Hymn Society, P. O. Box 30854, Ft. Worth, TX 76129) and Creator, The Bimonthly Magazine of Balanced Music Ministries (Church Music Associates, Inc., P. O. Box 100, Dublin, OH 43017-9936) are two worthwhile periodicals.

The Hymn has had several notable issues, e.g., the phenomenon of praise singing, Vol. 38/1. The Creator reflects the changing needs of church music programs. The contributors to this magazine comprise a “Who’s Who of Evangelical Church Musicians.”

Dr. Jonah C. Kliewer is Professor of Choral Music at Tabor College, Hillsboro KS.

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