72-year-old Andrae’ Crouch, a truly anointed man of God, the father of modern gospel music and 7 time Grammy Award winner, is now a part of heaven’s awesome choir. That has to be the sweetest sounding choir – but it’s much improved now. I can’t help but think that those Grammy Awards, nice as they are, pale next to the awesome crown he has now, and casts at his Savior’s feet.
I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. – John 17:4
His songwriting, singing and piano playing had a profound influence on my life! I remember how the music in our little Southern Baptist church changed in a big way in the 1970’s because our new hymnal included some of his great songs. We got to sing songs of faith such as “Jesus is the Answer”, “Through it All”, Take Me Back”, “It Won’t Be Long”, “Soon and Very Soon”, “The Blood Will Never Lose its Power”, “I Don’t Know Why”, and my favorite, “My Tribute (To God Be the Glory)”.
Hey – I was the pianist and I literally witnessed the change in people when we sang those gospel songs! Don’t get me wrong – I treasure the old hymns, but there’s something about singing words that echo what our hearts really feel – instead of the words of a hymn penned hundreds of years ago – well, it just means more – and we can truly worship from the bottom of our hearts.
The songs Andrae’ Crouch wrote were absolute genus because they were so simple. His music and lyrics were not difficult to learn – and once I learned them, I could take the focus off the logistics of the written music – and focus my attention on God – on His Holy Spirit – and let Him have it – lock, stock and barrel. Just let go and let God… that’s when the worship really happens. He was so wise because he kept the tunes and words simple to learn, simple to teach – so we could all get down to the business of praising our Lord!
By the early 1980’s, the music of Andrae’ Crouch was still popular. I had a very close Christian friend and co-worker named Liz. She happens to be African-American. I wouldn’t mention it, but it’s important to the story. Liz and I spent a lot of time talking about God, theology and so forth. We thought it would be fun to visit each other’s churches when we had singspiration nights. I don’t know if churches do that anymore – but it’s when people are free to sing, recite poetry, do skits or whatever they wish to do to worship the Lord.
We did this for a while and it was a lot of fun. I began noticing an obvious, glaring trend and suspect she noticed it too. When she came to my church, she sang something written by Bill & Gloria Gaither. When I went to her church, I sang something written by Andrae’ Crouch. I remember singing this one:
This went on for a while and I wasn’t sure whether I should say something about it or just let it ride. I just kept thinking, “Surely she is seeing the same pattern I am”. You’ve been there, right? Not sure whether to broach a subject or leave it alone??? Well, I decided to just let sleeping dogs lie, so to speak.
We decided to take our brown bags outdoors and enjoy the lovely weather one Monday after we’d had a great night of singing and praising God the night before. I still didn’t feel prompted to say anything – but apparently God was talking to Liz, because she said:
“Have you noticed that I sing songs by Gaither songs and you sing songs by Crouch?”
Finally someone said it! I was relieved.
We just sort of stared and grinned at each other for about two seconds – then laughed uncontrollably!!! It was the longest I’d laughed in years!!! From that moment on, the awkwardness was behind us. We were finally giving each other a sort of permission to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading instead of trying to “fit in” – so to speak.
As I recall, the next time I went to St. Matthew’s for a singspiration, I played and sang a song that was not written by either Bill Gaither or Andrae’ Crouch. I don’t remember what it was, but I remember knowing it was something God’s Holy Spirit was prompting me to do and it had nothing to do with fitting in. I remember by that time feeling as comfortable at St. Matthew’s as I did at my church.
The music of Andrae’ Crouch broke down all sorts of barriers. I remember some eyebrows being raised when his choir helped Madonna and Michael Jackson with some music videos. But is it really any different from the Stamps quartet singing backup for Elvis? I don’t know – but I do know that if we are proclaiming the name of Christ, we cannot just stay in our safe little houses of worship and proclaim it to each other. We have to get out there in the world – the sick ones need the doctor. Who knows what kind of impression someone in that choir might have had on Madonna??? Ya know???
It occurs to me that this multi-talented child of God walked the path many of us walk today. He was a type 2 diabetic, had cancer and heart disease. He was dyslexic!
My dyslexia contributed to my success. – Andrae’ Crouch
We know a number of complications come our way when type 2 diabetes is on board, and dyslexia brings its own set of challenges, but look at what he did with his life! He made it matter – he made it count – he followed God by using the talents and abilities he got from God. Shouldn’t we all be doing that??? Wow – I just admired this man so much. He showed us that no matter what is going on with these bodies, our spirits, our true light – cannot be dimmed because that’s where God’s Holy Spirit lives – inside us. God is so much bigger than anything that can attack this body. 🙂