Earl Freudenberg Remembers America's Song Leader Cliff Barrows

Sunday, March 22, 2020 - by Earl Freudenberg

It is early Sunday morning and I would normally be preparing to go to church, not today. So I decided to write some thoughts on Cliff Barrows. I was recently going through my 28 boxes of cassettes. Among the goodies were six Bible lessons given on two different occasions by Cliff Barrows at the First Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga. These tapes are a verse by verse of Psalms 23. I got more and more into Mr.

Barrows' life and remembered some of the things the late Ben Haden had told me.  Haden and Barrows had worked together in several Graham crusades during the early 60s.

 

Ben told me Barrows was a great Bible Teacher.   Ben said one of Barrows' family members got married at First Presbyterian and several were baptized there. Cliff Barrows' family also had connections to Bryan College. Ben said Barrows wore many hats on the Graham Team, but Barrows was best known for leading the singing.  Haden said most didn’t know that Barrows played several musical instruments including the harmonica. Haden said most of the time when he saw Cliff Barrows he was smiling and always positive. Barrows was part of the Graham team for over 60 years.

 

One of my most interesting projects a few years ago was researching the life of Chattanooga Free Press reporter George Burnham. Burnham wrote several books on Billy Graham, Cliff Barrows and George Beverly Shea.  I'm grateful to Burnham’s daughter Lynne for sharing from her dad's collection about the Graham team. She said she remembered them coming to their house in Brainerd several times and they exchanged Christmas cards. 

 

Here are pictures from her father’s photo albums. One picture is with Cliff Barrows, Mr. Graham and others during a Hotel Patten luncheon preparing for the 1953 crusade. Another is with Billy Graham and Cliff Barrows in India. And, a picture of the 1950 Engel Stadium service with Cliff Barrows behind Mr. Graham. They were on their way to Atlanta and a crusade at Ponce de Leon. Also on the platform was Dr. Lee Roberson and Dr. James L. Fowle. 

 

We are also coming up on the 67th anniversary of the 1953 Billy Graham Crusade at the Warner Park Field House. Cliff Barrows led hundreds in singing in the field house choir as well as hundreds of other choirs during his time with Mr. Graham.  

 

A few years back my friend Tom Hammett did an hour interview with Cliff Barrows about his work with Billy Graham and the choral music. Curb Music had released a 3 CD set of crusade choir music.  Hammett’s interview was very informative. Barrows had already lost most of his vision but was very alert.  In that conversation, Barrows talked about his relationship to First Presbyterian Church and his friends in Chattanooga. Barrows loved Ben Haden and Glenn Draper. Barrows also reflected on the building of the Warner Park Field House in 1953 for the upcoming Graham Crusade. I can always remember when Cliff Barrows passed away in North Carolina.  It was on my birthday Nov. 15, 2016.  

 

Cliff Barrows is in heaven with his longtime friends Billy Graham and George Beverly Shea.  It's a little early but April 6 is Cliff's 97 birthday.

 

Happy birthday to America's song leader, Cliff Barrows.

 

(Earl Freudenberg can be reached at HeyEarl1971@comcast.net)


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