From Word Music to Baylor University, Christian composer leaves a legacy of hundreds of songs.
Composer Kurt Kaiser, whose popular songs “Pass it On” and “Oh How He Loves You and Me” became staples at Christian camp sing-alongs and youth revivals, died Monday.
The 83-year-old musician wrote more than 300 copyrighted tunes, released more than a dozen albums of his own, and accompanied the late George Beverley Shea on piano during Billy Graham’s crusades.
Kaiser passed away in Waco, Texas, the city where he’d lived for 59 years and helped launch Word Music and Dayspring Baptist Church.
“For more than five decades, Kurt Kaiser enriched the world with a Christian message of hope as a pioneer of modern church music,” said Baylor University president Linda A. Livingstone in a tribute this week.
At Word Music, Kaiser had an ear for signing hit artists, moving up from director of artists to vice president. During his career, he went on to work with dozens of popular singers, ranging from Mahalia Jackson to Wayne Newton.
Kaiser and fellow Word pioneer Ralph Carmichael—known as the father of contemporary Christian music—brought a pop sensibility to worship music for the sake of evangelism.
Together, they “convinced evangelicals and fundamentalists that Christian pop music could draw youth to outreach events and revivals,” including through their 1969 musical “Tell It Like It Is,” which sold half a million copies worldwide, researcher Wen Reagan wrote.
He quoted Kaiser as saying, “Kids have been inundated with the same kinds of [rock music], and nowadays it’s everywhere. I just think it’s a very sensible way to reach kids. I can’t imagine any evangelist who’s interested in reaching kids going with any of the twentieth-century hymn …
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