A closer look at the Seventh-day Adventist legend’s musical appeal.
February 03, 2018
Ted N.C. Wilson, president, Seventh-day Adventist Church
[Photo courtesy of Voice of Prophecy]
What made the music of Del Delker so touching and appealing to so many of us?
Many of us are remembering the Seventh-day Adventist legend after she died Jan. 31, 2018, in Porterville, California. She was 93.
Del Delker was a faithful soloist for the Voice of Prophecy radio broadcast for many years. She worked closely with the Voice of Prophecy quartet, The King’s Heralds, and the various speakers of the Voice of Prophecy down through the years. Her beautiful contralto voice was so warm and welcoming during worship services, evangelistic meetings, on recordings, and wherever she shared her God-given musical talent.
Let me share a few observations from my perspective which may resonate in your understanding of her approach to music and that of what God intends for us to experience with music:
- Del lived the spiritual music she sang. I was very impressed with one of the comments posted by Stephanie Dawn, a very accomplished, visually impaired Seventh-day Adventist soloist who will be our featured musician at our General Conference Executive Committee Annual Council in Battle Creek, Michigan, in October 2018. Stephanie said that Del Delker “was a loving, patient, compassionate, loyal friend as well as a wonderful listener and mentor. She mentored many people, including me. She taught me through word and example to give the glory to God and to engage with others and show them compassion.” Stephanie related an experience about Del and Phil Draper, her piano accompanist, when they were traveling in a taxi and Del sensed that the taxi driver was interested in spiritual things. Since Del wanted to share the gospel with the driver, Del told Phil, “Pray that we hit every red light.” They did, and the end of the story is that the taxi driver signed up for Bible lessons and was baptized.
- Del’s music was genuine and from the heart. You could sense it. She meant what she sang.
- Her music had strong biblical and religious content. The lyrics spoke to your heart and you could understand her singing diction so well. There was a heavenly message. The lyrics had substance — not just a few words repeated over and over, but a clear and full biblically-inspired message.
- The music itself was melodious and carefully arranged. It did not partake of an unbiblical, inappropriate “worldly” nature or “rock” style. Undoubtedly, many of her songs were arranged by Wayne Hooper, another Seventh-day Adventist musical legend (who wrote the song, “We Have this Hope,” which we sing all over the world in many languages). The music lifted you to heaven.
- Del’s music spoke to the heart and the head.
I recall a time when I was working in New York City with a strong emphasis on reaching the people of the cities that we produced a visual program showing the need to minister in New York City and other cities as Jesus did. We used as a strong musical motivational component of the program Del’s singing a hauntingly beautiful appeal song written by Billie Hanks Jr., titled, “Lonely Voices Crying in the City” — “Lonely voices sounding like a child. Lonely voices come from busy people, too disturbed to stop a little while …” This song was typical of the countless songs she sang or recorded that motivated you to do something for Jesus and for others. Del Delker’s rendition of that beautiful song touched the hearts of so many people as we appealed to them to take time to reach people around you and especially in the great cities of the world.
Praise God for the worldwide emphasis we have today on Mission to the Cities, Comprehensive Health Ministry, and Total Member Involvement — all undergirded by Revival and Reformation, which is completely connected to our relationship with Christ. Del’s singing helped to nurture the important focus on today’s Mission to the Cities.
May we continue through the leading of the Holy Spirit to listen to, perform, and sing the type of music that lifts us to heaven and fulfills the sacred criteria outlined in Revelation 4 as we worship God in the beauty of holiness. I believe that is what Del Delker’s music taught and shared with us.