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Dr. James Vernon

Chair, Division of Music
Burton H. Patterson Professor of Music
Professor of Music

Office Location Raley Chapel, 202-W
Phone (Office) 405.585.4300
OBU Mailbox # 61276


James Vernon, Professor of Music and Chair of the Division of Music, teaches courses in music composition, music theory, and fine arts (music and art for the Common Core). He directs the OBU Music Composition program. He has composed works for instrumental, choral and vocal idioms, as well as music for stage play productions. Vernon’s compositions have been performed throughout the United States and in parts of Western Europe.

Vernon’s most recent large project was the completion of a full-length opera on the life and education of Laura Bridgman, the first blind-deaf person to learn language. The story consists of the relationship between Laura and her primary teacher and mentor, Samuel Gridley Howe, who directed the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston, Massachusetts in the 19th century. The opera, A Porcelain Doll, was premiered on the OBU campus in March 2017.

Other more recent compositions are Dover Beach for Wind Ensemble and Mixed Choir (2020);  My Words Are Like The Stars for tenor and percussion (2018), In Retrospect for cello and piano (2018),  Love Came Down For Christmas (2017) for women’s choir and piano, Love Song (2017) for women’s choir and piano,  The Spirit of the Lord is On Me (2015) for women’s choir and percussion, A Belief in Beauty (in memory of Kristen Stauffer Todd -2015) for unaccompanied women’s choir, Septet for Wind Instruments (2014) and Elegy for Trains, (2014) a work for women’s choir, brass ensemble, and piano, using the poetry of OBU colleague Benjamin Myers.

A native of Chesapeake, Virginia, he lives near Shawnee with his wife, Lisa, a nursing instructor. They have one daughter, Meredith, who is a physical therapist, a most excellent son-in-law named James, a beautiful granddaughter named Blair, two cats who are useless, and a lot of land that needs constant mowing. His hobbies include reading, sailing, bicycling, running and making sure someone else mows the lawn.


  • B.A., Old Dominion University
  • M.M., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • D.M.A., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Courses Taught

  • Private and Class Music Composition
  • Written and Aural Music Theory Courses
  • Arts and Western Culture
  • Introduction to Music Study
  • Theory Seminar


  • College Music Society
  • Society of Composers
  • Broadcast Music, Inc.
  • NASM Accreditation Visitor

Selected Publications

Recent Compositions:

  • In Retrospect for Cello and Piano
  • O God Our Help In Ages Past for Men’s Choir and Piano
  • Ithaka for Women’s Choir, Strings, and Piano
  • Psalm 57 for Mixed Choir and Piano
  • Dover Beach for Wind Ensemble and Mixed Choir
  • My Words Are Like The Stars for Tenor and Percussion
  • In Retrospect for Cello and Piano
  • O God, Our Help In Ages Past for T.T.B.B. Men’s Voices and Piano
  • Love Song for Women’s Choir and Piano
  • Love Came Down for Christmas for Women’s Choir and Piano
  • Crown of Roses for Soprano and Piano
  • A Porcelain Doll, full-length opera
  • The Spirit of the Lord is On Me for Women’s Choir and Percussion
  • A Belief in Beauty for unaccompanied Women’s Choir
  • Septet for Wind Instruments for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Horn, Alto and Tenor Saxophone
  • Elegy for Trains for Women’s Choir, Brass Ensemble, and Piano
  • A Thousand Tongues of Immortality for Soprano, Cello, and Piano
  • A Love Song for unaccompanied T.T.B.B. Men's Voices
  • Magnificat for S.S.A.A. Women's Voices with Piano and Percussion
  • The Glow From That Fire for Mixed Chorus, Alto Solo, Narrator, and Orchestra
  • Three Sacred Songs for Soprano Voice and Piano