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70s Christian Music

Updated on September 15, 2014
Diane Cass profile image

Diane is a lover of all things beautiful; music, art, antiques and nature. Her guides bring insight to topics she cares passionately about.

Contemporary Christian Music Pioneers of the 70's

Christian music has been a HUGE part of my life from the time I was little. My dad was a pastor and led the worship, and my mom played the piano in every church we were ever a part of. I continued in this tradition, becoming the Minster of Music, worship leader and choir director in the churches that have been a part of my life since adulthood.

This lens is a tribute to the contemporary Christian music and artists that inspired me to study music in college, and spend my life making music to glorify God.

The Shocking Christian Music of the 1970s

Hippies in the Church? Scandalous!

When I was growing up the only "contemporary" Christian music was hymn arrangements and gospel music from the country music tradition. Popular groups included the Blackwood Brothers and Bill Gather Trio. My parents loved this music...still do...but it didn't speak to me. There was nothing, absolutely nothing with Christian lyrics, in the music styles of the times. My friends were listening to Crosby, Stills and Nash, Simone & Garfunkel, The Beatles and others. I felt so left out.

Then, something amazing happened. A little church named Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California began to welcome hippies into their church. Long haired, bell-bottomed hippies. Shockingly, the church did NOT require them to cut their hair before entering the church. Even more amazing was that the church allowed these hippies to get up on stage every Friday night and sing...their OWN music...in CHURCH! It was simply scandalous! Rock and Roll was considered by most mainline Christian sects to be "of the devil". How could they be letting these hippies sing Rock and Roll in a church...even if there were Christian lyrics to it? Why, nobody had done anything this scandalous since Jesus had dinner with the tax collector, or partied with sinners! SHOCKING!

The wonderful "hippies" getting saved in that church began a revolution in Christian music. Finally, Christian music could also follow popular music styles of the day, but with a higher purpose of leading people to God.

Christian Music Pioneer - Love Song - Chuck Girard and the Love Song Band

"Love Song" was the first contemporary Christian music album I ever owned. The amazing thing is...my parents bought it for me. They were among the nay-sayers who where rankled by the idea of hippies and hippie-music being allowed in church. Thankfully, they were smart enough to see my love of music, and how I connected with this new form of Christian music...so they bought the album for my birthday. I will be FOREVER thankful for this. It literally changed my life.

I practically wore this album out I listened to it so much. The music of this band inspired me. It lifted me up to heights I had never before felt in my musical, worship experience. I picked up a guitar, taught myself to play and started writing and singing my own songs.

The song in this clip is "Little Country Church", by Love Song. It is a great description of the changes happening at that time..

Another Favorite From my Love Song Album - "Let Us Be One"

Another great song with the same theme. Hey folks, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. We gotta put aside our differences and be one in Christ.

Christian Music Pioneer - Karen Lafferty

Girls can play guitar???

Well, I was a girl, and I played guitar, but I had never seen a girl play guitar like Karen Lafferty played guitar...and she was a Christian to boot! This woman became a role model to me. I felt that if she could do it, I could do it, since the same God that had called her into ministry was calling me too.

I never attained the virtuosity of the guitar that Karen displayed, but she inspired me and I wanted to be like her. It pushed me to learn and grow as a musician and a performer in ways that I never would have without her inspiration.

Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God

Karen Lafferty Tells All - Interview with a Christian Music Pioneer

Karen Lafferty was interviewed and asked about how she came to write her best known song, "Seek Ye First". She tells of her background as a barroom performer and how she found faith in God, and began channeling her musical talents to work for Him.

Christian Music Pioneer - 2nd Chapter of Acts - Radical harmonies, producer of decades of wonderful Christian music.

The 2nd Chapter of Acts is one of my favorite groups. The brother and sister team of Matthew Ward, Annie Herring and Nelly Greisen began their musical journey n the early 70's with the tragic death of their parents. Matthew and Nelly went to live with their older sister Annie, and her husband Buck Herring, a recording engineer and music producer. Annie wrote songs and played the piano, and soon the house was filled with the incredible tight harmonies and glorious, homogeneous sound that only family members singing together can produce.

I love this group and their story of triumph over tragedy. Their music simply bristles with faith and confidence in God's ability to lift us up and set us in a place of warmth and love. Since I lived in near Los Angeles, where they were based, I was able to attend many of their concerts over the years. Each one was a thrilling, worshipful experience. There really is nothing like the sound of this group. The three sing with one voice, richly textured and harmonious. Their music spans the decades, from their first album "Footnotes", which featured the runaway hit "Easter Song" in 1974, to their final release "Far Away Places" in 1988.

Both Annie Herring and Matthew had also produced their own solo albums.

Here is their most loved song "Easter Song".

The Easter Song 2nd Chapter of Acts

Who's Your Favorite?

Whether you favor the music of today or the music of the past. Who is your favorite artist? What was your favorite song?

What is Your Favorite Song/Artists from the Contemporary Christian Music Genre?

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      Michelle 2 years ago

      It was about 1979 I lived in Ramona I was 11 we had a guy named Vic living with my family taking care of my sister and myself. He loved Donovan and the Beatles, he published some Christian songs, he played guitar. He had a daughter named Jennifer and a son named Joe Joe. Anyone know of a 70's christian guitarist in San Diego, California?

    • Diane Cass profile image
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      Diane Cass 3 years ago from New York

      @karen-bradford-796: Awesome! Teen Challenge was very active in my area and we went to a lot of the events they sponsored. I remember the title of that album, but it is a faint memory sadly. I hope you can find it on YouTube. I'm amazed at all the great old songs you can find there. Bless you Sister.

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      karen-bradford-796 3 years ago

      Just came upon your site. Love it. I too am searching for an album called To the Chief Musician. I think Teen Challenge or some group like that did it or at least sold it at my church when they came and ministered. It had a lot of cool songs that I still sing today, like You are Alpha and Omega, and Whom Have I in Heaven but Thee, I'll go look on You Tube.

      I enjoyed the music and videos. I too fell in love with my Saviour during that time and He changed my life.

    • Diane Cass profile image
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      Diane Cass 3 years ago from New York

      @paul-clacherart: Boy, I wish I knew those songs, but they aren't ringing any bells. Have you tried a search for lyrics using quotes?

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      paul-clacherart 3 years ago

      i am looking for a song i think the title is "little grain of wheat" and another song that had the line "for my lord he is a mighty king an he's reaching out" dodoo do do dodoo doo "the wonder of his love, the wonder of his l o v e ( dodoo = i don't know the words) Iam also looking for the song called the fool it's a song about a king that gives a ring to his jester (the fool) an sends him out to find the biggest fool in the land an when he comes back he says to the king who is dying are you ready for your journey the king says no and the fool say here's your ring i've found the biggest fool, an i'm also looking for a song i think its called the color song i think 2 guys sing it might be Degarmo an Key but i haven't seen it on any of their lists the album cover i think had a tree drawn it but not sure it was a long long time ago,any help would be appreciated i can be reached at p.clacher@yahoo.com

    • kimberlyschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel, MLS 3 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      I remember singing 2nd Chapter of Acts music in church. I still have the music to the songs in Mansion Builder (one of the first songs I sang in church.)

    • Diane Cass profile image
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      Diane Cass 3 years ago from New York

      @don-floridaman: Ah, good for you. Your persistence paid off. Check Amazon, or even Youtube. I've found a lot of oldies available there.

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      don-floridaman 3 years ago

      @don-floridaman: Discovered the last song identification I needed: The Perfect Savior by Austin Roberts from 1981. Now, if I can find a copy of that song or the LP.....

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      Candi Calkins 3 years ago from Coconut Creek, Florida

      Diane, why don't you post some of your own songs that you wrote? I would love to hear that again. Don't you have a video of your composition recital? That would be so interesting to look back from a perspective of time and realize that you were very talented at songwriting, no doubt about it.

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      don-floridaman 3 years ago

      PLEASE SUBSTITUTE THIS POSTING FOR THE PREVIOUS ONE. This one includes more detail on the lyrics.

      There are a couple of songs from the late 1970s and early 1980s that I heard on a popular contemporary Christian radio station from Tulsa, Okla,, "Love 98," KCFO-FM.

      Searching the lyrics online, I cannot find any clue on the artist or song title.

      The singers are male in the pop style.

      The first song is more upbeat with these lyrics: "... well, as sure as I'm standing here, Jesus is my savior. He has rolled away the stone" "he has risen from the dead, he has crushed the serpent's head so that I may live...", "he's my holy one...."

      Another is a male solo but slower.

      "He was the perfect savior, he gave his life for me. Then he...."

      If anyone recognizes these songs from that great early era, would be wonderful. Thanks.

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      Zirkus 3 years ago

      It was an awesome era, and I lived it too. I have a problem with making Calvary Chapel, or even southern California the center of this movement. Larry Norman was one of the first, and he probably started there, but there were many others in that era from all over. Resurrection Band were from the north, I think Chicago or Milwaukee. Others were doing the same thing in the northwest, and Phil Keaggy was from Youngstown, Ohio, and was part of a Christian community in NY. Others came from Texas, Liberation Suite, and Hope of Glory, and there were bands everywhere that had no records or recognition. It really was a move of God that happened all over including overseas. I know one man that was recording with a band in England very early in this movement. His name is Bill Davidson. I loved the Maranatha Music from Calvary, but they were only part of it.

    • Diane Cass profile image
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      Diane Cass 3 years ago from New York

      @john-vanduynhoven-5: I'm sorry, I don't remember that song. Good luck finding the song.

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      john-vanduynhoven-5 3 years ago

      looking for an album that has someone talking like he's Paul, about his life, being shipwrecked. I don't remember who did this but I have always remember that part and wanted to get the album

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      anonymous 3 years ago

      @anonymous: The group was, indeed, called Charity. They made one album, and most of the songs were written by Gus Carillo. Emily Fuller and Lindi Bynum were the female vocals on the album. Instrumentals were played by Shirley Price and Eric Thompson.

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      anonymous 3 years ago

      Hello! Maybe someone can help me. I have been tying to find a song from the late 70s or early 80s about a man that wakes up and his wife and daughter are raptured away. I think it says something like...when the morning sun breaks across my room...and I believe the daughters name was Jenny...I know this isn't much to go on...but can anyone help me???

    • Diane Cass profile image
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      Diane Cass 3 years ago from New York

      @anonymous: In a google search, I'm finding that song from a group called The Lanny Wolfe Trio. They have a Facebook page. The song is called. "Undeserving".

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      anonymous 3 years ago

      I have been looking for many years for a song from the 70s or 80s. I don't know the title, but here are the words - I don't deserve to come to you Lord, with my troubles and my selfish pleas. I know that I've failed you in so many ways, but never have you failed to meet all my needs. I'm underserving of your love, but love me Lord. Can anyone help me with this search?

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Benny Hester

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I am looking for a song from 77-78 entitled All I Need...my youth choir sang this song in a competition. Some of the words go like this: Even thought the future is debating, time will tell, but what's the use of waiting ...all I need is to trust in Him.

    • Diane Cass profile image
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      Diane Cass 4 years ago from New York

      @anonymous: I remember that song too, vaguely, but I can't remember it's name or who did it.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I am trying to remember a song that was played back in the late 70's early 80's. It was a story about Jesus (set in the song as music) and when Jesus was crucified the music stopped. Then very faintly you could hear the music start up again and get louder and louder. May have even been bells that were tinkling in the background. The only thing I can remember about the lyrics was a line that said "they thought they could get rid of the sound". A man used to sign this song as a regular on the PTL club and TBN. Any help would be so much appreciated.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I was part of the movement that grew in Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa under Pastor Chuck Smith in the 1970s. I loved Children of the Day (For Those Tears I Died), Daniel Amos...I loved a song called "Jeremiah," but I can't remember who did it or what the name of the album was, and I'd love to track it down again. Anyone remember?

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Dallas holmes

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I am looking for a band that was from the 70's. They played at the church camp I went to called Pine Summit in Big Bear California. I know that had a few albums. One was a maroon color with the bands name, anyone recall this group?

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      There was a band in the 70's that played a few times at a church camp--Pine Summit in Big Bear California. I know they had a few albums. I know one had a maroon album cover. Anyone know who this group was?

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      luvsmusic 4 years ago

      I liked the song "I Wish We'd All Been Ready" by Larry Norman, I also liked the music from Godspell & Jesus Christ Superstar. There was a group call "HIS" from a Christian college in California that had an album I liked. Even our minister, Red Florence, sang and made a few albums in the late 60's/early 70's.

    • Diane Cass profile image
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      Diane Cass 4 years ago from New York

      @anonymous: I can't find anything on that. If it was strictly a song made for choir, and not sung on the radio by a Christian artist, it may be hard to track down.

    • Diane Cass profile image
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      Diane Cass 4 years ago from New York

      @anonymous: There was a popular Christian artist named Benny Hester. His most popular song was "When God Ran". I don't know if he did a song titled "He's Alive", however...Don Francisco did do a song by that name. Perhaps you have them mixed up?

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hi, looking for an artist who had an album in the 70's. Don't have the album anymore. I particularly loved the song He's Alive! on it. The artist name was Benny ? The album had a photo of him on the cover. Full face, young man in his 20's?? Wonder if anyone recalls his full name and what became of his career?

    • Diane Cass profile image
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      Diane Cass 4 years ago from New York

      @anonymous: Boy, I thought I knew them all, but I don't remember that one. Sorry.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Help, I am trying to find an album, maybe named Charity, or that may be the group. It has psalm 91 , and John 1 where they read ,In the Beginning, and Dear Heavenly Father, I know that you really care, I know that you really love me by the blood that Jesus shed, and though you're God Almighty,creator of it all, still it's nice to know that you're by my side when I feel so all alone.

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      JamesThomasCalho 4 years ago

      Larry Norman was my favorite, I think. But there were lots of others. Daniel Amos, Keith Green, Sweet Comfort, Mustard Seed Faith and even the jazz group, Seawind.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I am coming here asking for help. I remember a song I heard in the late 70s or early 80s that I would love to find. It was a song about the centurion at calvary. The artist I believe was a piano player. It would really be great to find the name to that song as it has a great personal value to me. Any help would be appreciated.

    • Diane Cass profile image
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      Diane Cass 4 years ago from New York

      @anonymous: I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with that song.

    • Diane Cass profile image
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      Diane Cass 4 years ago from New York

      @Diana Wenzel: I'm sorry, but I'm not familiar with that song. Bummer.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hello - I am seeking help finding a song I believe was written in the early 1970s I do not the composer but if anyone recognizes the words, I would like to purchase the music (piano) Thanks - Dianne

      "If you want to , you can sing my song, If you want to you can sing my song, I don't mind if you want to sing along. The everybody will be singing a song. Then everybody will be singing a song"

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 4 years ago from Colorado

      The 70s... such an amazing transformational time in terms of Contemporary Christian music. I was learning to play guitar and singing in a group called Sonfolk. We performed in churches all across the country. Then I started my own group named Simple Truth. I have many Christian artists that I loved back then and continue to find inspirational. The song by Karen Lafferty is one that we performed quite often. It was very interesting to learn more about her songwriting and her journey.

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      ccsonian 5 years ago

      My favorite Christian musicians from the 70's are Keith Green and Larry Norman. Even Bob Dylan came out with some great Christian music.

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      uneasywriter lm 5 years ago

      Interesting information.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Love Song, Eric Nelson and Michelle Pillar, Mustard Seed Faith...

      "Sometimes Alleluia" too many....

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      LaRaeRaine 5 years ago

      A wonderful collection! Love Song have to be near the top of my list of favorites. A great lens written with so much fun and enthusiasm. Thank you!

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      pianolessongirl 5 years ago

      That's a great story....I couldn't narrow it down, I love everything! I absolutely love Michael W. Smith, and I also love MercyMe. Wonderful lens, God Bless!

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      Leah J. Hileman 5 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      Tie between Michael W. Smith and Rich Mullins. Favorite song: "Jacob and Two Women" (because it mentions "Leah," my namesake).

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      peppervel 5 years ago

      My all time fav-"Seek Ye 1st"- Cos in Jeremiah 29:11-13 promised seek God 1st n He will provide. Truly God never disappoints. When I was studying the bible to become a christian, this verses convicted me the most. I finally understood my ultimate purpose in life is to have a relationship with God. It's been 23years n I am still loving it! Thank you for sharing this beautiful lens.

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      sdholloway 5 years ago

      OH WOW, I'm so glad I visited this lens. You made my day, or my yesterday. It just turned midnight, so I'm confused.

      To answer the question...hmmm...I love Casting Crowns, Mercy Me and Selah, but one of my true favorites is Rich Mullin. I'm kind of eclectic in my taste in styles at times, but I pretty much listen to nothing but Contemporary Christian.

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      jseven lm 6 years ago

      Chuck Girard was and still is one of my favs. I knew every song on his spirit wind album. Keith Green was another favorite, Barry McGuire, Terry Talbot and so many others, Good lens!

    • Diane Cass profile image
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      Diane Cass 6 years ago from New York

      @Frischy: That was one of my favorite songs too!

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      Frischy 6 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      Oh my goodness! I LOVED this album! No one else seemed to know about it. Lend an ear to a love song....You can hear it, if you try..... So lovely! Thank you for an awesome lens!

    • Diane Cass profile image
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      Diane Cass 6 years ago from New York

      @Virginia Allain: Thanks Virgina. I'm glad you took the time to listen to Karen Lafferty. It feels so good to talk about this and tell about how important music and these people are to me.

    • Diane Cass profile image
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      Diane Cass 6 years ago from New York

      @rickmac lm: 2nd Chapter of Acts was and is one of my all-time favorites. I'll be putting them in the lens soon. They were based in California, near where I lived, so I saw them in concert several times over the years. They are awesome.

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      Diane Cass 6 years ago from New York

      @Snakesmom: I loved Amy Grant in her early years. She had such a beautiful, clear voice. Everyone used to tell me I sounded like her. She turned to Pop music in the 80's and took on a gravely-sounding voice that I have never liked much. She was a favorite of mine back in the day though.

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      Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

      I was in college about this time and remember what a breakthrough Jesus Christ Superstar was. The performers you feature here are new to me and I love Karen Lafferty's voice and the song.

      Your passion shows through on this topic. Well done!

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      Rick McBride 6 years ago from Dallas

      Nice lens, Diane. I always loved the 2nd Chapter of Acts and still listen to them on my Ipod sometimes. I love Selah, Margaret Becker and Kim Hill too.

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      Snakesmom 6 years ago

      I always thought Amy Grant made beautiful music. Great lens!

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