Ralph Carmichael, President of Lexicon Music, Inc., continues to influence the national church music scene after a quarter of a century of composing, arranging and conducting. From his days in college and before Carmichael has established a precedent for colorful, unique arrangements of original and traditional material. While still in college, one of his first public ventures was the production of a television series which won an Emmy Award in 1951. He has gone from there to attain worldwide attention for his long-play albums, radio and television arrangements and religious film scores. He is remembered for the music in such Billy Graham films ad “Mr. Texas,” “For Pete’s Sake,” “The Restless Ones” and “His Lane,” and for producing the music for the Oral Roberts television specials. He has composed over two hundred songs which are being sung around the world, having been translated into a dozen languages. Lexicon Music, Inc., of which he is president, has been a leader in the field of youth music and folk musicals for the past ten years.
Ralph has collaborated with Kurt Kaiser to write “Tell It Like It Is,” “Natural High” and “I’m Here, God’s Here, Now We Can Start,” three youth musicals which have set publishing records. A new publication for Christmas, “Specially for Shepherds,” premiered in 1977 in over six thousand churches!..In addition to the publishing venture, Carmichael heads a recording company called Light Records. Besides being good listening, their albums are often used as teaching tools, becoming “demonstrations” of the music published by Lexicon. Choirs, by listening to the records and reading the published music, can more rapidly learn the new material. This concept is now being used by most major religious music publishers. The Light label has come to mean innovation and quality, and the catalog lists over two hundred albums, with at least twenty new releases annually.
Not content just to “push a pencil,” Carmichael has committed himself to a vigorous program of public appearances each year, arranged by the Special Services division of Lexicon. He has flown over a quarter of a million miles, reaching people from coast to coast. MUSICalifornia, a most spectacular gathering of choir directors and church musicians, happens annually under Carmichael’s leadership. This concept will soon be expanded to include twelve other major sections of the United States, and he will be joined by most major religious music publishers.
In an attempt to further increase the influence of Christian music in America, Carmichael has created a radio division of the Light Records’ outreach. Six program formats air over six hundred times monthly. God is honoring his dedication as more than twenty songs have reached over a million copies in print. Historically speaking, his most-known contribution to the field of church music may prove to be the publication of his hymnal, The New Church Hymnal. A quarter of a million in print in less than two years has proved this popular hymnal to be a significant addition. In fact, according to Carmichael, “Lexicon has released the hymn book of the future, because the kids who are singing our tunes today will be leaders of tomorrow.” If you’d check the singing in a thousand churches across the country, you might just find out he’s right!..In his lifetime, by his own admission, Carmichael has written “every kind of music there is.” But you’ll never know what kind of music he likes personally. “That is not important,” he says. “What is important is the fact that music must communicate the gospel. God has never promised to bless any particular musical form, only to bless His Word. I don’t know how many notes I’ve got left in my pencil, but I want them used to glorify God and present his message to the world.”
Southern California Bible College
Primary Roles in Gospel Music
Composer and conductor
Light Records/Lexicon Music Company
Ralph Carmichael conducting at First Baptist of Orlando
Interview with Ralph Carmichael