Richard Emil Lange
1927 - 1992
Richard Lange, a baritone, was primarily known as a singing evangelist in the Seventh-day Adventist Church and as the creator of Earth: Theater of the Universe. He also taught music and was in the King's Heralds, the male quartet associated with the Voice of Prophecy radio broadcast.
Richard was born in Portland, Oregon, on April 26, 1927, one of seven children of Emil William and June Ermilla Mamie (June) Hooper Lange. He attended Portland Union Academy, now Portland Adventist Academy, and after graduating in 1945, was inducted into the U.S. Navy.
Following military service in China, he attended Walla Walla College and shortly after arriving on campus was invited to join the VOP King's Heralds, where he sang as a member in 1947 and 1948. In the following year he worked in evangelism in the Portland area before joining the Quiet Hour radio program.
In subsequent years, Lange was a singing evangelist and pastor in the U.S. and Canada and did radio work in Florida. He returned to the Portland area, where he served as minister of music in the Sunnyside Church; taught music at his alma mater and at nearby Columbia Academy in Battleground, Washington; formed the fifty-member Portland Vesper Chorale; and completed a B.Mus. in composition and theory at Lewis and Clark College.
Beginning in 1963, he resumed work in evangelism in the Lake Union and Central Union conferences. In 1967, he became associate pastor of the Denver South Adventist Church, and a year later became an assistant to Ted N. Graves in the youth leadership program in the Denver area.
In the 1970s, Lange began to realize an idea that he had had in the mid-1950s while working in the Texas Conference. He had envisioned a multi-media program that would trace the Adventist view of the plan of salvation from the fall of Lucifer to the restoration of God's kingdom through the use of art, commentary, and music. It wasn't until he became acquainted with Bill Wiley, a businessman, and the two combined their ideas and resources that the concept could begin to become a reality.
It became a six-year project that included a 108-foot panorama of paintings by artist Lorenzo Ghiglieri of Portland, Oregon, a professional script based on research by Lange, music by Loren Frost, and appropriate materials for promotion and distribution. Frost composed the music and arranged it to maximize the impact of the presentation. He later talked about that experience:
As we worked on it, periodically we would go down to Whitney Studio in Glendale, California, to record the music. Looking back, it was a great experience. I was just a kid at that time and yet had unlimited resources at my disposal. If I wanted a bass flute, I had it. Whether it was a special instrument like that or a full orchestra of forty, It was mine. I wrote eight songs, arranged two others written by another composer, and did all the background music. We used a music copyist and employed professional studio musicians at the recording sessions. It took two years to put the project together.
The presentation, titled Earth: Theater of the Universe, was a huge success and would be used in various versions in evangelistic meetings or as part of Bible studies in the 1970s through the end of the century. It and related products, including recordings, a book with that title, artwork, and videos were widely distributed and are now available on the internet in different forms.
Lange was a pilot, who, with Elden Walter and Cline Johnson, also pilots, formed an evangelistic team that in 1965 flew throughout South America with their families in a twin engine Beechcraft D18, filming aspects of the Adventist work in that continent to use in their meetings.
He and Walter often sang duets and were included on an album featuring music from the 1966 General Conference Session in Detroit. He also formed male quartets as needed and in the early 1970s formed a group, The New Life Singers, as part of the ministry of the Theater of the Universe Foundation. They produced a record, I Searched the World, in 1972. In his career he was featured on five Chapel Records albums, including I Sing of Thee in 1964 and Old Hymns for the New Experience in 1979. Lange wrote several songs, four of which were published by Singspiration, a religious music publisher.
Lange was married to Helen Bauer, an organist and teacher, who assisted him in his work as pastor and evangelist and recorded an album of organ music, Heart to Heart, with Chapel Records in 1962. They had three children, Richard, Robert, and Vickie (Davie). He was living in the Portland, Oregon, area at the time of his death on February 5, 1992, at age 64.
Sources: 1930 U.S. Federal Census Records; Central Union Reaper, 6 August 1968, 3,4; North Pacific Union Gleaner, 17 January, 1972, 24 (Mother's Obituary); 4 September 1972, 18; 4 July 1977, 4; 15 June 1992, 30 (Obituary); The Youths Instructor, 27 June 1967, 15-17; 1966 General Conference Souvenir Album Liner, Chapel Records; Richard Emil Lange obituary, North Pacific Union Gleaner, June 15, 1992, 30.