By Request: Evangelists With Weird Instruments

evangelistmusicFundamentalists evangelists wear many different hats — not the least of which is the position of showman and entertainer. Most evangelists have some kind of hook, and act that is their signature. Ventriloquism, art, magic shows, karate (but the good kind not the evil eastern mysticism kind) demonstrations are par for the course. Many evangelists also sing and play instruments.

Now while some speakers will stick with guitar, piano, or trumpet others get a bit more…creative. You’ve never lived until you’ve been serenaded for 15 minutes by an accordion or heard How Great Thou Art scraped out on a muscial saw. But the prize for uniqueness goes to those few (including evangelist Hal Webb) who have mastered the art of playing the theremin.

For those of you who have never had the privilege of seeing one of these in action, the theremin is an instrument that has two antennas that adjust volume and pitch based on how far or close the players hands are to the antennas. So the evangelist literally moves his hands through the air in front of the instrument to produce the music. It’s the sort of thing that would have had you burned at the stake during the middle ages but makes for a great performance during special services. You can check out some video of one being played here

21 thoughts on “By Request: Evangelists With Weird Instruments”

  1. I’ve seen the saw thing before, but never a theremin! Amazing. Simply amazing.
    An evangelist can play whatever he wants, for all I care. As long as he doesn’t use an electric guitar (unless it’s a bass guitar) or…evil of all evil… DRUMS!!! Amen!?!

  2. The theremin has a pretty cool sound. It’s “other-worldly” sound helped make the original film “The Day the Earth Stood Still” a little creepy. (but just a little)

    1. Fans of the mighty Zep might also remember the theremin from live performances of “Whole Lotta Love”.

  3. My brother-in-law once saw at their church a vintriloquist with their puppet singing victory in Jesus for the special music. That was bizarre…..

  4. Cool.

    BTW, I’m a saw scraper. My grandpa taught me how and I have his original copper saw that was made in the early 1900’s.

  5. Just finished writing a paper on the use of novelties in worship. The saw definitely qualifies.

  6. Oh dear Lord,
    This takes me back, I remember sitting through a week long evangelistic services with Hal Webb. For those of us, who were also enrolled in the Christian School at this church, we had to listen to him every day in chapel as well.

    I saw a documentary once about who invented the Theremin. It was actually invented by a Russian spy as a rudimentary listening device. Considering how the fundamentalists of the time, were so paranoid about us Ruscies, it is hard to imagine that an evangelist would use this. Unless, Hal Webb was a spy! hehe :O

  7. Does anyone else remember a guy (named Brubaker I think) who was the songleader for a traveling evangelist? His shtick was playing the trombone and the piano – at the same time.

    1. We had him at our church!! Even my uber-fundy dad didn’t make us go to all those services…it was that bad.

  8. There’s an app for that. My husband likes to play with the theremin app. But to take it on the road? hmmm.

    It’s true, I’ve seen evangelists have some interesting hooks to get you in to the pews. Lose an eye? Lose your legs? Go preach people will come to gauck. Have 20 kids? You can eat live gold fish? or have a tolerable knowledge of Karate? Go preach. they will come.

    1. Evangelist Tim Lee! (No legs)

      I saw him in the mid-80’s. Quite a story.

      Shunned by the fundy elite for compromise.

  9. I remember “The Musical Merrills” coming to our fundy church. She played glasses (crystal ones).

  10. Not a musical act, but this brings to mind the time (the now known to be perverted) Martial Arts Evangelist Michael Crain was invited to throw sharp instruments at our youth group and church staff. His other claim to fame was slicing Michael Jordan’s abdomen during a similar exhibition of his skills in 1982.

    The stupid things my former fundy church did to draw a crowd… 👿

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