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Died: Donald P. Hustad, Graham Crusade Organist Who 'Inspired Generations' of Church Musicians

Long-time associate of George Beverly Shea, Hustad taught at Moody Bible Institute and Southern Baptist Seminary.

One of the evangelical movement's most influential church musicians, Donald P. Hustad, died on Saturday, June 22, according to family members. He was 94.

"[His] life and work inspired generations of people," said Rhonda S. Furr, a professor of music at Houston Baptist University who wrote her doctoral dissertation on Hustad's influence across six decades of ministry.

"Despite the celebrity that surrounded him, he remained a genuinely humble man committed to spreading the gospel of Christ through music and instruction," she said. "Although remembered by many for his musical talent, his visionary leadership inspired and equipped generations of church musicians and remains his enduring legacy."

The measure of Hustad's impact on church music is detailed in an entry on Wikipedia, including:

The basic tenets of Hustad's Christian faith were established while he was a child and later enriched by theological study. During his youth, he enjoyed listening to lawyers defend their cases at the local courthouse, and he developed an admiration for logic and debate. His later desire to construct a philosophy of church music that could withstand the rigors of liturgical and musicological debate stemmed from both his theological study and his interest in logical discourse. Hustad's life was woven from these varied strands—a fragmented family unit, a conservative theological atmosphere, diverse musical styles, and learning opportunities afford by school, church, and local courtroom.

A colleague of George Beverly Shea, whose death and legacy CT recently reported, Hustad once commented on how a 1999 CT cover story on church worship music was "surreptitiously compromised," writing:

Evangelicals have not always lived up to their best in singing. In the early 20th century, revivalist gospel hymns emphasizing human experience swept aside the classic Watts and Wesley hymns quoted by Noll. During that 50-year worship-poor hiatus, our classics were preserved by the liturgical and "liberal" denominations. Now who will represent us reformers in preserving our new potential "classics" for the 21st century?

The Courier-Journal offers a video profile of Hustad, and Billy Graham Center offers an audio clip of him playing the organ.

The family released to CT this overview of his life and ministry:

Hustad had a distinguished ministry and a life-long profession as a recording artist, composer, arranger, teacher, conductor, hymnal editor, and author.

He began work as staff musician of Chicago's WMBI in the early 1940s, worked with soloist George Beverly Shea on a weekly broadcast called "Club Time," and served for some 20 years as organist for a popular radio broadcast "Songs in the Night." He taught at Olivet Nazarene College in Kankakee, Illinois from 1946 to 1950, at which time Hustad was appointed director of the Sacred Music Department at Moody Bible Institute—a position he held until 1961.

During his 11-year tenure at Moody he developed the Moody Chorale into a superior choral ensemble that achieved fame nationally and internationally. In 1961 he became Crusade organist for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and directed the Crusader Men Choir in the "Hour of Decision" broadcasts.

In 1967, Hustad, who had completed a Ph.D program in music at Northwestern University, moved to Louisville to serve as professor of church music at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. As a result of his teaching a popular course on worship, he authored "Jubilate!" -- a book that analyzes evangelical church music and sets forth his own philosophy of church music, and later "Jubilate II" and "True Worship: Reclaiming the Wonder & Majesty."

His publications include over 100 articles and five books.

Throughout his career, Hustad devoted considerable energy to music arranging and hymnal editing, serving as editorial consultant and musical advisor to Hope Publishing Company. Among his editorial contributions are fourteen hymnals and songbooks, as well as dozens of collections.

In 1989 Hustad was awarded Fellow of the Hymn Society for his outstanding contribution to American hymnody. In 2006 he was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. In 2008 he was honored by the American Choral Director's Association Southern Division Conference for his contributions to church music. He earned diplomas as an Associate of the American Guild of Organists (AAGO) and a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists (FRCO), London, UK.

A memorial service is currently scheduled for Saturday, July 27 at 2 p.m. at the Western Springs Baptist Church on Wolf Road in downtown Western Springs, Ill.

Survivors include his wife, Ruth McKeag Hustad, three daughters, Donna Amstutz, Sondra Brunsting, and Marcia Hustad, four granddaughters, and eight great-grandchildren.

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