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William J. Reynolds retires from Southwestern Seminary

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–William J. Reynolds has shaped notes as a composer, arranger, conductor and administrator and, for 18 years, the lives of innumerable students — and their worldwide impact — as distinguished professor of music at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas.
“Few people have had the breadth and depth of impact on Southern Baptist church music as William J. Reynolds,” said Scotty Gray, Southwestern’s vice president for academic administration.
As a youth, Reynolds felt God’s call to church music. “I’ve tried to be true to that call through the years,” said Reynolds, who retires from the faculty after the spring semester. “The 18 years that I’ve been at Southwestern have been the greatest, most challenging and most rewarding years of my life.”
Reynolds’ musical gifts and love for the Lord are vividly displayed through 726 choral anthems, hymn tunes and children’s songs.
He was chairman of the hymnal committee and general editor of the Baptist Hymnal, 1975 and general editor of The New Broadman Hymnal, 1977.
His publications include “Hymns of Our Faith (companion to The Baptist Hymnal) 1956;” “Companion to the Baptist Hymnal, 1975;” “Congregational Singing;” and “Building an Effective Music Ministry.” He also writes two newspaper columns, “History of Hymns” and “Hymns Baptists Sing.”
“Dr. Reynolds has been a mentor to me and to others throughout the years,” said Stan Moore, professor of church music at Southwestern. “He has been the leader in the field of congregational singing and is the only Southern Baptist church musician who has written two hymnal companions and contributed to a third hymnal companion. He is truly a Southern Baptist treasure, a model musician and friend.”
Reynolds has received numerous honors throughout his career, including the B.B McKinney Foundation Award at Oklahoma Baptist University; the W. Hines Sims Award for distinguished achievement from the Southern Baptist Church Music Conference; and Southwestern’s Distinguished Alumni Award. He was also named a fellow with the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada in 1992.
He was music director for the Southern Baptist Convention annual meetings from 1972-86 and music director for meetings of the Baptist World Alliance in Rio de Janiero, 1960; Miami Beach, 1965; Stockholm, 1980; and Los Angeles, 1985.
He was president of The Hymn Society of America, from 1978-80; national consultant for the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, University of Mississippi; chairman of the church music area for the Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists, Volume IV; adjudicator at international music festivals; consultant for the Sacred Harp Publishing Company; and a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
“My life has been enriched by my association with exceptional people in this institution; by the depths of their insights, the use of their talents and the example of their lives,” Reynolds said.
“There are great demands in the music field with new methods and procedures requiring keen music leadership in Southern Baptist churches,” Reynolds noted, adding that “Southwestern is an excellent, fully accredited school that has turned out excellent preachers, educators and musical leaders to accommodate these needs.”
Reynolds was with the church music department of the Baptist Sunday School Board, Nashville, Tenn., 1955-80, serving the last nine years as department director. He was minister of music and youth at First Baptist Church, Ardmore, Okla., from 1946-47, and First Baptist Church, Oklahoma City, 1947-55.
He and wife, Mary Lou, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary July 6, 1997. “I am grateful to Mary Lou; she has been my wife, my lover and my best friend,” he said. The Reynolds have sons, Timothy and Kirk, and grandchildren Abigail, Rachel and Hannah.
“William J. Reynolds has been my friend, Sunday school classmate, a loving husband and father,” Gray said. “He has served the Lord with diligence and a gracious spirit. He is a delightful man with a wealth of stories about hymnody, church music, Southern Baptists and Southwestern Seminary. He is a gracious gentleman who loves his Lord and loves the text and music that honor his Lord.”
Reynolds plans to further his research in retirement and will be an adjunct teacher during 1998-99. “The Bowld Music Library is world class, and I want to spend time digging into Christian songs and music that have come and gone throughout time,” he said.
His life mirrors the chorus of a hymn he wrote,
“Share His love by telling what the Lord has done for you,
Share His love by sharing of your faith,
And show the world that Jesus Christ is real to you
Ev’ry moment, ev’ry day.”
“I promised the Lord years ago that I would be a church musician,” Reynolds said, “and as long as he gives me breath I will never quit.”

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  • Karen Varnedoe