Smale, Ian Stuart


b Sussex 1949. In his youth a keen rugby player who preferred rugby songs to any others and showed no interest in his parents’ faith, he found one Christmas that ‘God revealed himself personally to me’. He began to sing for his Lord in the 1970s; joined by Andy Piercy to become for 3 years the full-time gospel music duo of ‘Ishmael and Andy’. While Andy stayed in the music scene with a new group ‘After the Fire’, Ian went to study at Bible college before pastoring a small Elim Pentecostal church for two further years. He then resumed his full-time Christian music career in a band called ‘Ishmael United’. Aiming mainly at teens and 20s, they made some albums described as radical, controversial, even outrageous; but ‘to me the most important thing was getting the message of Jesus across’— ISS. His chosen stage-name ‘Ishmael’ (so nicknamed by a Sunday School teacher, from the exiled ‘extra’ son of Abraham) reflects something of a wild streak combined with the protection granted by God. He has been active in Youth for Christ and in Spring Harvest leadership for some years, written over 400 songs and several books, and recorded more than 40 albums. Praise! features the best-known and one of the more gentle of his compositions, as does MP, Sing Glory and other UK collections. Although in recent years ISS (or Ishmael) has established closer links with the CofE, he is not to be confused with the Anglican vicar Ian Keith Smale, b 1953, who is also a songwriter and music leader. No.268.