You can read part 1 here.
Dwight L. Moody was tone-deaf. But, just as his lack of formal theological training never kept him from becoming a preacher, this disability did not hinder him from placing a high emphasis on music in revival. To Moody, music was an integral part of his revival meetings. When Moody finally decided to begin taking his revival meetings full time, he brilliantly realized that he was going to need a music man by his side. He once wrote a tract entitled “How Can Non-Church-Goers Be Reached?” in which he says,
Another thing [to do to reach the non-church-goer]—have good singing. In some of these churches they have been singing the same old hymns for the last twenty years, and instead of the organ being up in the gallery with two or three singers about it doing all the singing, bring the organ right down among the people and let them gather right round it and sing themselves [sic]. And if some of the people don’t know how to sing, have a meeting once a week, where the people can go and learn.1
Moody’s Evangelism and the ‘Human Hymns’ of Sankey
Among the men approached by Moody for his task were the famous traveling singer and song-writers Philip Phillips and Philip Paul Bliss. They both refused. Moody then asked Ira David Sankey to help him in his meetings.
Moody had heard Sankey sing at a Indianapolis YMCA convention in 1870 and had previously hired him to help in the music of the Chicago Avenue Church. Sankey had no formal music training, although he was involved with ecclesiastical music from a very early age. At seventeen, Sankey had been the choir leader at his Methodist Episcopal Church in Newcastle, PA, and Sankey wanted to move progressively in other directions even then. In his own words,
“When I first took charge of the singing it was thought by many of the church members that the use of an organ, or any kind of musical instrument to accompany the voices of the singers, was wicked and worldly. . . . For several years we kept on in this way, but by and by we found that the majority were in favor of having an organ in the choir. I shall never forget the day on which the organ was first introduced. I had the honor of presiding at the instrument, and I remember how carefully I played the opening piece. Only one or two of the old members left the church during the singing.”2
He was also greatly influenced by the Sunday Schools songs of William Bradbury; Sankey had enough regard for him that he was compelled to attend one of his music conventions in Ohio at the age of twenty.3
1Dwight L. Moody, “How Can the Non-Church-Goers Be Reached?” in The American Evangelicals 1800-1900: An Anthology (ed. William G. McLouglin; New York: Harper & Row, 1968), 173-74.
2Ira D. Sankey, My Life and the Story of the Gospel Hymns (New York: Harper and Brothers Pub., 1907), 14-15.