Hymnological Collections

Nutter-Metcalf Hymnal Collections (partially cataloged)

The combined collections of Charles Nutter (1842-1928) and Frank Metcalf (1865-1945) total more than 2500 volumes and form the core of the hymnological resources in the STH Library.  Nutter graduated from STH in 1871, the year in which the Boston Theological School merged with Boston University.  When not serving as a Methodist minister, Nutter collected hymnals and wrote both hymns and authoritative books on hymnology.  (In 1913, he also taught hymnology at BU.)  The other donor, Frank Metcalf, an 1886 BU alumnus, worked in the U.S. War Office and, like Nutter, collected hymnals and wrote on hymnology.  Almost half of their combined collections dates from before the end of the Civil War and includes such treasures as a copy of the 1612 Ainsworth Psalter, the musical version of the Psalms that the Pilgrims brought with them on the Mayflower, as well as several 16th-century Genevan psalters.  In addition to its obvious support for studies in sacred music, this collection assists studies in practical theology, in English and American language and literature, in sociology (especially through comments in prefatory material and through illustrations), and in the history of American book production.  In the late 1990’s a Lilly Foundation grant supported full-level descriptive cataloging of most of this collection, including all of the pre-1800 materials.  Some idea of the significance of the Nutter-Metcalf Collection in larger hymnological circles can be gained from the fact that in 2004 the commercial publisher IDC reproduced on microfiche 561 titles dating between 1566 and 1890, which they are marketing to other libraries.

James A. Rogers Hymnal Collection (partially cataloged)

At the end of 1999, the Library purchased the hymnal collection of Rev. James A. Rogers, a United Methodist Music Minister of Springfield, IL, consisting of approximately 3,000 volumes dating from1571 to the late 1990’s.  Nearly all volumes are printed in English, with special emphasis on British and American sources.  Approximately 600 books deal with hymnology, about 40 of which date from the 1800’s and about 90 of which are autographed by the author.  About 700 hymnals are from the 1700’s and 1800’s and approximately 40 of them are autographed by the editor or author.  This collection includes examples of nearly all major North American denominational hymnals through the latter part of the 20th century and forms a chronological complement to the Nutter-Metcalf Collections.

The Hymn Society Collection (partially cataloged)

This collection of approximately 900 volumes belonging to The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada was formerly housed at Union Theological Seminary in New York and came to STH in 2005, when The Hymn Society reclaimed them rather than transfer ownership to Columbia University (which was acquiring Union’s assets).  Roughly two-thirds of this collection consists of psalters, tunebooks, and hymnals.  In addition there are more than 100 song collections (most entirely sacred with others containing some secular pieces) and about 50 volumes of hymn texts and other religious poetry.  The remaining books deal with the history of hymns, hymn stories, hymnal handbooks, biographies of hymn writers, music theory and history, and other miscellaneous materials.  Approximately one-third of the collection predates the beginning of the Civil War.

James Russell Houghton Collection (partially cataloged)

Although his archival papers have been processed, the considerable church music resources collected by James Russell Houghton during his 37-year (1927-1964) career at BU remain uncataloged.  The donation includes substantial materials related to 20th-century Methodist worship, especially hymnody.  (Houghton served on revision committees for the Book of Worship in 1944 and 1964 and for the hymnal in 1935 and 1966.  He was also the director of music at eight General Conferences from 1939 to 1960.)

Stephen E. Ayers Collection (partially cataloged)

This collection of approximately 700 items came to STH via Southern Methodist University.  It was compiled by Rev. Stephen E. Ayers, who received a MRE from BU School of Religious Education in 1932.  The hymnal portion of this collection spans from the late 1830’s to the early 1950’s and includes many multiple copies.  The second section of the collection consists of 84 looseleaf notebooks with alphabetized examples of hymns cut from many hymnals.  A similar collection of gospel songs attached to notebook paper is contained in covers harvested from the books used to supply these examples.  Despite many overlaps, preliminary review shows that this collection will fill many gaps in the STH collection of early 20th-century evangelistic song materials and will possibly be helpful to scholars using the STH Fundamentalism Collections (see http://www.bu.edu/sthlibrary/collections/fundamentalism-collections/).

Janice T. Woods Hymnological Donation (partially cataloged)

Approximately 400 hymnals were given to the Library in 2008 by Janice T. Woods, a Methodist layperson in upstate New York and member of the Hymn Society.  A preliminary survey of the materials shows that they are especially strong in Methodist-related resources and in Sunday School songs.

General Hymnological Collection

Additional hymnals and other materials from the Library’s general collections have been moved from the open stacks to the research collections in order to provide appropriate continuity and coverage in both denominational hymnals and in background works on church music.

Charles S. Nutter Letter Collection

This collection of autograph letters and some hymn texts was compiled by Charles S. Nutter as a result of his correspondence with prominent hymnists during his lifetime.  It includes contributions by Fanny Crosby, Phillips Brooks, John Greenleaf Whittier, Julia Ward Howe, Robert Lowry, Samuel Francis Smith, and other significant writers.

Barbara Owen Collection (partially cataloged)

These items were given to STH by Barbara Owen, the distinguished organ scholar and Director of the American Guild of Organists Library housed on the lower level of the STH building.  Her donation consists primarily of 19th-century imprints, most from New England, and is especially strong in oblong tunebooks.

Crocker Durkee Collection (uncataloged)

A collection of mid-19th century Methodist hymnals and books of discipline.

Lester Hostetler Hymnal Collection (uncataloged)

A collection of primarily 19th-century items, including a number of hymnals in German.

Lila Hill Hymnbook Collection (uncataloged)

A small collection of late 19th-century-1930’s materials, with particular emphasis on evangelistic and Sunday School songs.

McCormick Sydnor Hymn and Carol Collection

A collection of approximately 70 items given by David McCormick of Richmond, VA, in memory of distinguished hymnologist James Rawlings Sydnor.

Carol A. Pemberton Donation

This collection contains approximately three dozen items given to the STH Library by Carol A. Pemberton, the pre-eminent 20th-century scholar of the life and work of Lowell Mason, Boston’s most influential musical entrepreneur of the 19th century.  It is notable for the fine condition of the copies of Mason materials it makes available to researchers.