Experts on "Church Music"

William R Lock

  • Studio Artist (Voice)

A long-standing member of the Biola community, Dr. Lock has an infectious passion for singing, conducting, and church music. Traveling around the world to share his love of music, he has invested his life in vocal performance and pedagogy, conducting orchestral and choral groups, teaching conducting, and lecturing on church music. In addition, he has served as a church musician for over 40 years. Alumnus Arnold Geis ('12), a current member of the L.A. Master Chorale, reflects on the depth of character that Dr. Lock displays in both his life and his music: "Dr. Bill is an amazing teacher, mentor, and now a great friend. Looking back I can honestly say that having Dr. Bill in my life has truly been a gift from God. His teaching style is unchanging and unwavering. Resilience is a trait that I saw him live out each and every day I was with him. I couldn't stop it from rubbing off. His attention to detail constantly gave me something to strive for. Today I look at the world a little more clearly because of the forgiving spirit and selflessness that Dr. Bill had while being my teacher at Biola."

Education & Influences

Dr. Lock began performing at the age of 13 and began teaching voice by the age of 17. He felt God calling him to pursue several related fields: voice, conducting, and church music. Reflecting on the complexity of his musical journey, he notes, "Having these three careers was almost an impossibility, but I had a lot of help."

Teachers include Dorothy Allan Park and William Vennard; he also studied conducting with Edith Byquist Norberg, Robert Shaw, Dr. Charles C. Hirt and Walter Ducloux.


Dr. Lock has sung and conducted across the United States, Canada, and Southeast Asia. Highlights of his performing career were performing the role of "Elijah" in three Malaysian cities, and performing the role of "St. Paul" to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Mendelssohn's death. Some of his performances have been broadcast on radio and television throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

Dr. Lock has traveled to Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Haiti to teach. Before serving at Biola, he served as an instructor at Saint Paul Bible College in Minnesota, Pasadena College, Fuller Theological Seminary, Bethseda (Korean) University in Anaheim, California, and the Crystal Cathedral School of the Performing Arts. While he was at Fuller, he acted as a consultant for the establishment of their degree program in church music. He has traveled to numerous institutions within the United States and Canada and across the globe as a visiting professor and guest lecturer on the subject of church music. He has served as an adjudicator for vocal and choral competitions, and has traveled internationally as a guest conductor, clinician, and presenter for festivals, conventions, and workshops. Furthermore, he has a long history as a private voice teacher and ensemble vocal coach.

Dr. Lock has written numerous articles that have appeared in scholarly periodicals, and has been a columnist for the Canadian Encyclopedia of Music, as well as The Complete Library of Christian Worship. In addition to writing for various publications, he has served in various editorial capacities for scholarly journals dedicated to study of church music, choral music, and voice.

In 1975, he founded the William Lock Singers and Orchestra which eventually expanded to include 100 members and a semi-professional orchestra of 50 members. Renamed as the Musica Sacra Singers, they continued giving concerts until their finale in 2011. This ensemble sang sacred choral music throughout Southern California under Dr. Lock's direction.

Dr. Lock's creative capacities have also extended to composition and arranging. His works have been published by companies such as Shawnee Press, Concordia Publishing House, Broadman Press, Gentry Music, Ron Harris Music, Curtis Music Company, Singspiration, the Hope Publishing Company, and Fredrick Harris Company in Canada.

For over 40 years, Dr. Lock has also served as a minister of music in various churches.

Faith in Action

Throughout his travels, Dr. Lock was able to see the unity between the different manifestations of believers' worship in different cultures. "We are all worshippers, but we worship in different ways. We all worship the one true God." He is excited to continue witnessing the growth of the Church in countries which he visited throughout his career. For example, he was the speaker at the first national conference for church music in Indonesia, and has seen such conferences blossom since that time.

Dr. Lock earnestly desires that Biola's students would recognize the need for a proper attitude of worship in their musical endeavors. "The Scriptures say that the Lord wants a broken and contrite heart. It's no good to give him praise from an unbelieving heart. Acceptable worship is in the doing, not just the singing and lifting of hands. It's about doing his will in obedience." Dr. Lock also stresses the need to have a historical perspective of worship. "A historical perspective is like anything else. We don't really understand the New Testament if we don't have the prophets. A historical perspective of worship is the same. [Worship] has been evolving through the centuries and in different cultures. It's still evolving."

Why Biola?

Teaching at the college level for over 55 years, Dr. Lock has served on the Biola music faculty since 1963. In 2013, he retired from full-time teaching. He holds the status of Professor of Music, Emeritus.

Dr. Lock's first teaching experience was in high school when he volunteered to teach in a low-income neighborhood through Child Evangelism Fellowship. He sees it as a calling, and finds joy in student's moments of enlightenment. "It's when a light goes on, or when a student gets down into the truth, away from the hype." Caring about the spiritual integrity as well as the academic success of his students, Dr. Lock appreciates the vision of Biola's leaders to nurture students' relationships with God while simultaneously spurring them on to academic excellence. "Balancing spiritual vitality and academic excellence is the hardest thing to do. There are a lot of schools that go one way….Biola has done a really superb job at keeping that balance."

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