Remembering Dr. Paul Lindsley Thomas

Dr. Paul Lindsley Thomas (1929-2021)

Pic 1: Terry Price, Paul Thomas, & Charlotte Kroeker in 2010 when Paul Lindsley Thomas received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the CMI Meyerson Festival of Church Music
Pic 2: Notables John Weaver, Hal Hopson and Paul Lindsley Thomas at a CMI Summer Workshop
Pic 3: Dr. Thomas receiving the Dallas Chapter AGO Honorary Lifetime Deanship from Chris Brunt

Few people in our lives make such a difference that we mark their intersection as “before” and “after.”  Paul Lindsley Thomas’s faith, expressed in the music he composed and offered as a church musician, changed lives forever.  We must not forget.  It is now for us who remain to perpetuate the gifts of his glorious music and eloquent “best practice” of church music.

The Church Music Institute receives with gratitude the legacy of Dr. Thomas in the form of all his music, archives, and the lectureship in his name that has brought luminaries in church music for over a decade to inform and inspire church musicians across the U.S.  Gifts to CMI designated to the lectureship will endow a fund to continue the lectureship and access to his music into perpetuity.

What is the legacy of Paul Lindsley Thomas for CMI to carry?  We have his own words to help us understand, written in 2010 and reaffirmed in 2021:

  • “The opportunity to perpetuate the highest of ideals in church music to which I committed my life has been offered by friends of mine. The Church Music Institute (CMI) is the extraordinary vehicle for advancing those ideals.”
  • “When we offer anything to God, it needs to be the best of which we are capable. As much as possible we must pursue excellence.  This is what CMI cultivates.  I do not see any reason why church music should not exhibit the same excellence that one experiences in the finest concert halls.”
  • “With all my adult and children’s choirs, I would always remind them that we offer God not just our money but our time and talent to the best of our capability. The result was incredibly beautiful, even though the musicians were volunteers.  The product was always greater than the sum of its parts because the inspiration of the moment took over.”
  • “Individual musicians with varying levels of expertise out-performed their supposed capabilities. That was the Holy Spirit at work – the ‘X-factor.’”
  • “The offering of this music nourished the spiritual growth, prayer and praise of the Christian congregations who experienced it.”
  • “Today I envision the Church Music Institute carrying on this mission. Through the work of CMI, I think what is happening here is just as good as what is happening in New York, for instance.  I know that CMI can do this better than any individual church because it serves multiple churches and denominations and is unhampered by denominational barriers or changing local church leadership.”

We give thanks for the music of our faith Dr. Thomas loved and to which he devoted his life.  If you would like to join us in perpetuating his legacy at the Church Music Institute, we welcome your memories and pictures for the archives, and your gifts to his lectureship and maintenance of his collection.  Click here to read about his life, and here to make a financial contribution.

In gratitude and appreciation for a life well lived,

Charlotte Kroeker, Ph.D.

Executive Director, Church Music Institute


To view the Paul Lindsley Thomas Lecturers, click here.

To support the lectureship, click here.

To read more about Dr. Thomas, click here.