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The Sacred Composition Legacy of Joan J. Pinkston

The John Ness Beck Foundation seeks to “encourage and promote the writing of traditional sacred music.” One of the means through which they encourage this is through an annual program “which recognizes current composers of traditional sacred choral music by selecting two compositions yearly which best exemplify the type of writing that fit the criteria set forth by John Beck.” The web site of the foundation explains how the program is set up:

Compositions are nominated by a panel of seven judges comprised of composers, music store retailers and university music instructors, each panelist suggesting one to five compositions for consideration. (No composer may nominate or vote on their own composition.) The first place award is $5,000.00 and the second place recipient receives $3,000.00.

What is very interesting is that an examination of the award recipients for the last several years reveals a common theme:

First Place: Dan Forrest “The King of Love My Shepard Is” (Beckenhorst Press, Inc.)
Second Place: John Rutter “Psalm 150” (Collegium Music Publications)

First Place Published: Howard Helvey “Joshua fit de Battle of Jericho” and “Love Came Down at Christmas” (Yes a tie.)
Second Place Published: Joe Martin “Pieta”

First Place Unpublished: Stephen Main “Wonder Tidings”
Second Place Unpublished: Gregory Kufchak “Still, Still with Thee”

First Place Unpublished: Jess Turner “All This Night”
Second Place Unpublished: David Giardinere “Midnight Clear” HMC2117

First Place Published: Lloyd Larson “Beautiful Savior” BPI 1766
Second Place Published: Joan Pinkston “Lord Jesus, Think on Me” JH 572

First Place Published: Molly Ijames “Song of Bethlehem”
Second Place Published: Dan Forrest “A Cradle Carol”

First Place Unpublished: Chris Collins
Second Place Unpublished: Sara Morris

What is interesting to note is that in the past 5 years, four first places and three second places have been awarded to graduates of Bob Jones University. In particular, BJU grads swept all four awards this past year!

joanpinkstonBut what is even more important to note is that all of these composers were students of Joan J. Pinkston, long-time theory/composition faculty member of BJU. Mrs. Pinkston, well-known for her excellent composition style, is characterized by sweetness, humility, and integrity. She has clearly had an significant impact upon the conservative sacred music composers of the future.

Not only has Mrs. Pinkston produced some excellent music and fine composers, but she also was the primary editor for the excellent hymnal, Hymns of Grace and Glory.

Congratulations to the Composition Department of Bob Jones University, and particularly to Joan J. Pinkston, for this legacy of fine sacred choral work. Truly a gift to Christ’s Church.

Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is Chair of the Worship Ministry Department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.

8 Responses to The Sacred Composition Legacy of Joan J. Pinkston

  1. Thanks for brinigng this to the attention of those of us who are not immersed in the world of sacred music, and would otherwise not have known. We love Joan Pinkston's hymns at our church. We love her hymnal, full of doctrinally sound hymns set to music that congregations delight to sing. I believe she is truly one of the "unsung" heros of contemporary, conservative, God-centerred music. She has served the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ very well, and I'm glad to see her being honored in this way.

  2. Thank you for noting the contribution of Joan Pinkston to excellence in church music. I have enjoyed the privilege of having Joan as our church pianist for almost 30 years. Her skills as a composer/arranger and as a performer are remarkable, but she has even more remarkable qualities. As one of her music faculty colleagues told me, you meet only one Joan Pinkston in a lifetime. Joan's knowledge of music is evident. In particular, her knowledge of Christian hymns is encyclopedic. But what comes through in all Joan does is that she not only knows her subject; she knows God and always seeks to divert attention from herself so as to exalt Christ. That is what informs all she writes and plays. She is truly a gift to Christ's church. I trust the Lord will spare her to influence many more lives through her personal testimony and her amazing musical ability.

  3. Joan J. Pinkston has done an arrangement of Jesus Paid It All that I have on a CD by J. Marty Cope organist on the The Calvary Grand Organ at Calvary Church in Charlotte NC. I would like to find that organ/piano arrangement so I could use it at my church in Shrewsbury PA. Lost a son in the past 2 years and I can just see him "Standing before the Throne, complete, as the last verse of the song was written. Thanks for the fantastic arrangement. Your music has bless my heart.

  4. We are sad that she is retiring from teaching. I am thankful to have sat under her for one semester. However, we are excited that she will have more time to dedicate to composition and arranging. Christian music needs her ongoing, godly, and beautiful contributions.

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