During my senior year of high school, the Lord allowed me to meet Dr. Al Smith and have lunch with him. I was visiting Bible colleges with my father and praying about God’s will for my future. Little did I know that God’s will for me would include serving in music ministry. I’ll never forget that lunch. It came during a time in my life when Christian music was changing rapidly, and I was forming what would become life-long convictions about how the Lord would use music in my own life, home, and ministry.
Dr. Smith was a servant-hearted, joyful man with a large personality and a happy disposition. He had never seen me before, but acted over lunch as if he had known me for a long time. He shared his life story with me—going back to directing music for Billy Graham and then publishing his first song book and starting Singspiration—the first Christian music publishing venture in modern times.
The strongest memory of that lunch was of Dr. Smith sharing his sorrow over the change in direction in Christian music publishing. With a passionate heart, he challenged me to stay Christ-honoring and conservative in my future music ministry. He urged me to resist the trends of the up and coming CCM movement.
After lunch, he gave me a book, shook my hand, and challenged me one more time to serve the Lord faithfully. That’s the only time I ever saw him, but his impression was long-lasting.
Twenty three years later, the Lord opened an amazing door that took my mind back to that lunch table—the opportunity to help revise and produce a 2nd edition of Dr. Smith’s most well-known life work—Living Hymns. For years I had wanted to use Living Hymns in our own church, but it didn’t have orchestration, and later I thought it was completely out of print. I have long believed it to be the best hymnal I’ve ever used.
After many months of labor, it’s a real joy to see Striving Together release this 2nd edition of Living Hymns, and it was a great delight to take a great hymnal and help to make it even better by adding over 50 incredible hymns and songs. I’ll be forever grateful for Dr. Smith’s kindness and encouragement to me. And I’m praying that another generation of Christians will benefit once again from his work to preserve our great heritage of hymns. Click here to find out more about Living Hymns.