The Hymn Book & Tunebook Collection of A. Merril Smoak, Jr., DWS.

The Hymn Book & Tunebook Collection of A. Merril Smoak, Jr., DWS.

Presented by Haaswurth Books

Dr. Smoak’s Collections consists of some 700 hymnals and tunebooks.  An illustrated bibliography of the collection is being developed and placed online for interested researchers and collectors to access.  This is a work in progress.  The categories that have some items listed to date are

Baptist Hymnals, Pre-1850
Methodist Hymnals, Pre-1850
Shaped Note Tunebooks, 19th Century

A. Merril Smoak, Jr. (1951-present) b. Greenville, South Carolina. Dr. Smoak was educated at California Baptist College, Riverside, California (B.A., Music), earned his Master of Church Music degree at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, and the Doctor of Worship Studies degree at The Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies in Jacksonville, Florida.

“Collecting hymn books and oblong tune books has been a life time adventure that has enriched my music ministry and teaching. It started in 1972 when my grandmother gave me a music book that  belonged to her grandfather, an 1854 edition of William Walker’s shape-note tune book Southern Harmony. Yes, my family was actually a part of the significant shape-note music tradition of rural South Carolina in the early and mid nineteenth century. Before my grandmother died she gave me  two more shape-note music books that had been used in our family: The Star of Bethlehem (1889), another oblong tune book; and a copy of Gospel Hymns, Nos. 1 to 6 Complete, Shaped Note Edition (1894). By 2022 the collection had grown to over 700 hymn books, tune books, and psalters; specializing in early American Baptist hymn collections; nineteenth century shape-note tune books; and over 200 hymnological reference books.”

Dr. Smoak served Trinity Baptist Church in Livermore, CA as Associate Pastor of Music & Worship (1978-2017).

Dr. Smoak is Dean & Senior University Professor at Jubilee College of Music & Zinzendorf School of Doctoral Studies, Olivet University, Anza & Mill Valley, CA (2005-present); an Adjunct Instructor at Gateway Seminary, Fremont, CA (2017-present); and the Chancellor of Jubilee University, Lexington, MO (2020-present).

Dr. Smoak’s publications include "Hymnal Collections in the Greater Los Angeles Area", THE HYMN,Vol. 30, No.2, April 1979; "Shape Note Hymnody: My Family's Tradition", JOURNAL OF THE SOUTH CAROLINA HISTORICAL SOCIETY, Vol. 8, November 1982; "Charles H. Gabriel: The Turning Point", THE HYMN, Vol. 34, No. 3, July 1983; "From the Gospel Hymn to the Praise Chorus", SOUTHERN BAPTIST CHURCH MUSIC JOURNAL, Volume 5, 1988; “The Language of ‘Jesus,
Lover of My Soul’: Charles Wesley’s Phrase at the End of the Twentieth Century”, THE HYMN: A JOURNAL OF CONGREGATIONAL SONG, Summer 2008; “Collecting Baptist Hymnals: Two ‘New’ Early Nineteenth Century Sources from Upstate and Western New York”, Paper presented at the Colloquium on Baptist Church Music, Baylor University, September 24-25, 2009; “The Adventure of Collecting Hymnals: A Beginning Primer”, THE HYMN: A JOURNAL OF CONGREGATIONAL SONG, Winter 2012.

Dr. Smoak's current research and writing projects include Youth Sings (1947): Cyrus Nelson's Collection of Gospel Choruses; The Baptismal Hymns in Archibald Maclae's A Selection of Hymns for Public Worship (1806); and Marginalia in Early 19th Century American Hymn Books.

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