Reynolds, Isham Emmanuel (1879–1949)

By: Michael Pullin

Type: Biography

Published: June 1, 1995

Updated: December 3, 2020

I. E. Reynolds, church musician, teacher, composer, and conductor, was born to Winfield Pinckney and Mary (Eastis) Reynolds in Shades Valley (now part of Birmingham), Alabama, on September 27, 1879. "Ike" or "Ikie," as he was called by his friends, attended Mississippi College, Clinton, Mississippi (1905–06), Moody Bible Institute (1907–08), and Chicago Musical College (1920), as well as doing individual study under private tutors in voice, theory, and composition. The Southern School of Fine Arts in Houston awarded him an honorary doctor of music degree in 1942. From 1906 to 1915 he worked with the Mississippi Baptist State Mission Board and Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

In May 1915 he was asked to be director of the new music department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth; the department became the School of Sacred Music in 1921. This was the first church music school established by Baptists. The department began with the director, one piano teacher, and nine students, one of whom was Baylus B. McKinney. Reynolds served as director until poor health forced his retirement in 1945. In 1930, when the seminary was having financial difficulties, he offered his own resignation rather than ask one of his teachers to leave. His offer was not accepted. While at SWBTS he conducted schools of music in many states, associations, and local churches, taught at Ridgecrest Baptist Assembly (North Carolina), and influenced organizational activities of Southern Baptist music at state and convention levels. He also began the annual Christmas season performance of Handel's Messiah at SWBTS.

I. E. Reynolds composed two sacred music dramas, four cantatas, miscellaneous anthems, hymns, and gospel songs. He authored five textbooks for his own classes as well as A Manual of Practical Church Music (1925), The Ministry of Music in Religion (1928), Church Music (1935), The Choir in the Non-Liturgical Church (1938), and Music and the Scriptures (1942).

On July 18, 1900, he married Velma Burns, who died in 1906 along with an infant daughter. On July 17, 1912, he married Lura Mae Hawk, whom he called "Miss Lu." They had one daughter. Reynolds died on May 10, 1949, and is buried in the Greenwood Cemetery, Fort Worth.

Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists (4 vols., Nashville: Broadman, 1958–82). I. E. Reynolds Collection, Roberts Library, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth. William J. Reynolds, "I. E. Reynolds: Southern Baptist Church Crusader," Southwestern Journal of Theology, Spring 1983.

  • Education
  • Educators
  • Music and Drama
  • Music
  • Religion
  • Baptist
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Fort Worth

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Michael Pullin, “Reynolds, Isham Emmanuel,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 26, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 1, 1995
December 3, 2020

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