Ralph Carmichael, Father of CCM, Dies

Ralph Carmichael, who has been called the Father of Contemporary Christian Music, died on October 18 at age 94. In the late 1960s, he joined Billy Ray Hearn and Kurt Kaiser to create the first contemporary youth musicals, “Tell It Like It Is” and “Natural High.” The soft folk rock sound created a carnal appetite for the back beat and beat anticipation and helped break down barriers against contemporary music in the churches, preparing the way for the onslaught of Christian rock in every form. The soft rock sound was lively enough to be desirable to church members but not hard enough to be shocking and offensive. It was a bridge to what was to come later. The son of a Pentecostal pastor, Carmichael “was allowed to listen to mainstream music on the radio.” That fed his appetite for the world’s music, and as a student at Southern California Bible College he founded a men’s quartet “that combined classic hymns and contemporary jazz” (“Ralph Carmichael,” Christian Headlines, Oct. 21, 2021). Carmichael was probably a sincere man who loved God, but so was Jehoshaphat, and building bridges to the world and error is always disobedience to God’s Word and always produces bad fruit. “And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD” (2 Ch. 19:2). “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Co. 15:33). “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Eph. 5:11). “And be not conformed to this world” (Ro. 12:2). We have documented the fruit of Contemporary Christian Music in The Satanic Attack on Sacred Music (videos and book) and The Directory of Contemporary Christian Music, a free eBook, www.wayoflife.org.

(Friday Church News Notes, November 5, 2021, www.wayoflife.org, fbns@wayoflife.org, 866-295-4143)