a billy graham center archives exhibit
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The New York crusade introduced a new song and new voice to Billy Graham crusades.
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"Plans are now underway to enlist two choirs of 2,000 voices each. One choir will sing on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights. The other on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday nights. On Sundays the choirs will alternate if the services are held indoors. They will be combined if the services are outdoors in a large stadium." Letter sent by Jerome Hines, chairman of the music committee, to possible music committee members. Early 1956? From Box Collection1, Box 2, Folder 5.

 The center piece of music during the crusade was the 1500 voice choir, which was recruited from churches in New York City and volunteers. (There were actually a little over 4000 members in the choir, giving a pool that could be drawn on to provide the choir for a particular night. The entire choir was together for such special occasions as the meetings at Yankee Stadium, Times Square, and the Polo Grounds meetings) The best known volunteer was actress and singer Ethel Waters, who sang throughout the crusade and was on doing solos of hymns such as “His Eye is on the Sparrow.” This was her first BGEA crusade, and she often sang solos at others until her death in 1977.

Cliff Barrows was choir director, as well as general master of ceremonies for the crusade and supervisor of its musical aspects with the chairman of the music committee Jerome Hines. George Beverly Shea was usually the soloist, singing just before Billy Graham began to preach. In 1955 meetings he had begun to sing an English version of a Swedish hymn, "How Great Thou Art." It was during the New York Crusade that the first televised version of his rendition was broadcast. Paul Mickelson served as the organist and Tedd Smith as the pianist.

Click below for items on Music
item 56: from Photo File BGEA New York City Crusade, 1957
item 57: from Collection 102, phonograph record P9
item 58: from Collection 1, box 2, folder 5
Crusade choir
Phonograph record
Letter to volunteers
item 59: from Collection 113, film F54
item 60: from Collection 54, film F107
item 61: from Collection 26, audio tape T478
Ethel Waters clip
Bev Shea clip
Jerome Hines, choir
© 2005 Wheaton College and © 2005 BGEA