Let the People Sing!: Hymnals Through the Ages

Oct. 11, 2004

Hymns spanning languages, denominations and time may be found in an exhibit on display in the Allbritton Foyer of Moody Memorial Library until Oct. 29. The songbooks exhibited are from the Eskew Hymnological Collection acquired recently by the Baylor University Libraries. The display is open during library hours.

Items in the exhibit are divided into four sections: the introduction, hymnals across the world, hymnals through denominations, and hymnals through time. Songs in Arabric, Hebrew, German, French, Latin, Japanese and many other languages and church music books used by Lutherans, Mennonites, Catholics and other congregations are in the display. The 'hymnals through time' include a few rare and historical volumes including The Battle Cry: A Hymnal of Temperance and Prohibition Songs (1887) and the oldest volume in the collection, Royal Melody Compleat: The New Harmony of Sion (1764).

Acquired from world-renowned hymnologist Dr. Harry Eskew, the entire collection consists of some 2,200 volumes of hymnals, hymnology books and journals, and related works on worship and church music.

'This collection, woven into Baylor's existing hymnological holdings, makes the University an increasingly important site for the study of congregational song,' said Dr. Terry W. York, associate professor of Christian ministry and church music. The gift was a powerful affirmation of the School of Music's reputation, he added.

Dr. Eskew, who lives in Macon, Ga., is professor emeritus of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, where he served on the faculty for 36 years as a professor of music history and hymnology. He has served on hymnal committees and has authored books and articles on Baptist and gospel hymnology.

An American music scholar and a student of Gilbert Chase, Dr. Eskew is one of the pioneers in his field. He has a special interest in old-time, shape-note singing and is known as one of the best scholars on shape-note hymnody. His special interests helped established the South Carolina State Singing. In 2002, he was designated a fellow by the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada.

Nicky Stokes and Pam Belser of the Acquisitions Unit and Sha Towers of the Crouch Fine Arts Library arranged the library exhibit.