Billy Graham Center

Interview with Clifford Burton Barrows - Collection 463

[Note: What follows is a description of the documents in this collection which are available for use at BGC Archives in Wheaton, Illinois, USA. The actual documents are not, in most cases, available online, only this description of them. Nor are they available for sale or rent. Some or all of this collection can be borrowed through interlibrary loan. ]

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Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions

Biography of Clifford Burton Barrows

An Essay on the Contents of the Collection (Scope and Content)

List of Audio Tapes in This Collection


Audio file for T1

Click to listen to an excerpt from this interview. Click to visit the exhibit Web page featuring this and other excerpts with transcripts, visuals and audio links.
Brief Description.
Oral history interview in which Barrows discusses experiences which have influenced his work, the place of music in evangelism, trends in current Christian music, music in Billy Graham crusade services.
Vol.: Audio Tape

Collection 463
[January 31, 2007]
Barrows, Clifford Burton; 1923-
Interview; 1992

Audio Tape (.02 cubic feet)

Restrictions: No restrictions on the use of this collection.


Full name

Clifford Burton Barrows; generally known as “Cliff”


April 6, 1923 in Ceres, California




Charles Tilson and Harriet M. Barrows



 4, all younger


Marital Status

1. Wilma “Billie” Newell, 1945-1994 (deceased)
2. Ann Prince, 1995-



 Bonnie, Robert, Betty Ruth, Clifford (Bud), William Burton


At the age of 11 in church, when the pastor preached on the Bible verse John 3:16


1944, ordained a Baptis6t minister in at the First Baptist Church in Ceres, California




Graduated from Bob Jones University with a A.B. in Sacred Music and Shakespearean Drama



Late 1930s

Received call to full-time Christian service in music while in high school



Served as song leader for evangelist Jack Shuler at several of his meetings



Assistant pastor, Temple Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA



Youth for Christ evangelist and song leader, later a vice-president in the organization; traveled throughout North America and the United Kingdom. In January 1946, he became a full-time YFC field worker; from late 1946 on he usually worked with Billy Graham



He and his newlywed wife were attending a Youth for Christ rally in Asheville, North Carolina where Billy Graham was speaking. The scheduled song leader and piano player was not able to attend and the Barrows filled in, beginning a close life long association with Graham. He served as music director, song leader and master of ceremonies at almost all of Graham’s evangelistic meetings



Began serving exclusively as the music director for Billy Graham meetings



Member and officer of the board of directors of the BGEA since its incorporation. He was one of the leading and best known members of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) from its formation, particularly concerned in its film and radio work, but involved in the planning of all aspects of the Association’s ministry



President of World Wide Pictures, the film arm of the BGEA

Other significant information



Received honorary doctoral degree from John Brown University, Siloam Springs, Arkansas, USA



The auditorium at the Billy Graham Center of Wheaton College, in Wheaton, Illinois, USA was named Barrows Auditorium in his honor.



In August had acoustic neuroma surgery that resulted in deafness in the left ear. He was unable to attend the two evangelistic crusades in the fall of that year but then resumed his duties as music director



Inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee, USA



Inducted into the Religious Broadcasting Hall of Fame during the February meeting of National Religious Broadcasters



Was the compiler of many hymn books of evangelistic songs, some of which were prepared for specific BGEA evangelistic campaigns

Scope and Content

Cliff Barrows was interviewed by Wheaton College music major Kerry Cox on October 10, 1992, at the Billy Graham Center. The events described in the interview cover the time period ca. 1930-1992.

T1 (33 minutes). (You can also visit the Archives exhibit with an audio excerpt and accompanying transcript.)
Barrows musical training (family heritage and appreciation of hymns, experience at song leading as a young boy, sacred music major at Bob Jones College, influence of Oliver Steiner and Homer Rodeheaver); first contact of Cliff and Billie Barrows with Billy Graham in 1945; association with Graham in Youth for Christ and God's direction; the preparatory work for BGEA crusades, including choirs; example of the 1992 Portland Crusade choir; the importance of music in crusade services; benefits to volunteers from participating in a crusade choir; use of guest Christian musical artists in crusades; importance of the use of live music during crusades; concerns about contemporary music; type of music used during crusades; difference between worship and evangelism; use of music to convey faith to unbelievers; combination of worship, praise and evangelism in music; influence of commercialism on Christian music; comments on Charles Alexander's quotes ("Sing to save" and "Sing as if you were preaching"); the importance of a converted heart to communicating through song; the importance of melody and theology in hymns; influence on Barrows and his family of his mother's love of and memorization of hymns; the importance of music in expressing the Christian faith


The materials in this collection were given to the Archives of the Billy Graham Center by Cliff Barrows and Kerry Cox in October 1992.

Accession: 92-127
May 20, 1998
Robert Shuster

Accession: 92-127
Type of Material: Audio Tapes
The following items are located in the AUDIO TAPE FILE:

T1 - Reel, 3-3/4 ips, 32 minutes. 1 side only. Interview of Clifford Barrows by Kerry Cox, recorded October 10, 1992.

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Last Revised: 3/29/16
Expiration: indefinite

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