Give me Your Tired…Your Poor…Your Old hymnals!

Those of you who know me know that I’m constantly on the prowl for old hymnals!  The subject of hymnals, hymnody and hymns is not just a passion and my collecting old hymnals just a a hobby.  Rather, I’ve been able to research and study them in my graduate studies (this next phase which will conclude in December with a Master’s degree).

I’ve got about 18 different areas that I’ve researched or am researching right now.
One particular area is looking at two hymnals that were produced in the decade of the 1970’s by two men who were brothers.  Their two books (in various and asundry editions) had great popularity among Churches of Christ.  But as I continually study, compare, contrast and converse with other hymnological authorities, I’m shocked at just how much of their work was done illegally.

Rather than do their own leg work to attain appropriate copyright permissions and to set up their books in such a way to be “their own,” well over half of their work was just cut, copied, and pasted from previous books.  If one of your books was taken, copied straight up and pasted in someone’elses book without having given permission or without having been given credit, how might you feel?  I’m not sure how I feel about this…I’m in the middle of trying to have some conversations with parties involved in the publication of these books and also with those whose books were “ripped off…”  I’m anxious to see where this goes.

Oh…and if you have books (hymnals) you want to donate, you can email me at

7 thoughts on “Give me Your Tired…Your Poor…Your Old hymnals!

  1. Hey…one other thought about hymnals is to contact bigger churches in your area and see if they are using older hymnals for their Sunday school classes. I remember using some crazy old hymnals in grammar school classes.

  2. Son,
    I picked up three 1940’s-50’s hymnals this weekend at a garage sale! Unless you are in a real rush, will bring them next time we are headed that way…lemme know if I need to give you more info!

  3. Talking about old hymnals, I have in my collection hymnal published in the 1830’s, another by Alexander Campbell himself, one with numbers in the note heads, and another with the doh re mi’s written in the place of the notes with no staff. Recently, I was privileged to look through the Enos Dowling hymnal collection at Lincoln Christian College in Lincoln, IL. The collection is the largest collection of hymnals from the restoration movement in existence. See: Many of the older hymnals in my collection came from the Dowling collection duplicates. If any of you are ever up that way, drop by. They can arrange a tour.

    • James,
      That is a fantastic collection that I hope to see before the end of the year.
      The Bailey Collection at Lipscomb is very good as well.

  4. As crazy as copyright law is now – it was less clear back then (different laws, different precedent). Public Domain was murkier back then, as well, and the old idea of “Fair Use” makes us look very conservative, today. 😉

    If the song received attribution, that was good!

    If the song also contained more specific ASCAP/Copyright/Contact info – that was far above par.

    Since copyright law has stabalized, somewhat, and so have the ideas of public domain and fair use, we have the advantage of being able to more easily come to a conclusion regarding “what is right.”

    Let’s let the past remain there and assume our brothers did their best to do what was right, but work to continue to come to a better understanding of law and practice? … that’s my opinion!

    Granted… some of the *word* changes without note or attribution did annoy me greatly growing up… even if the lyrics are in the public domain… 🙂

  5. Is anybody still working this site? I have a collection of older hymnbooks to give away due to downsizing

Leave a Reply to DavidCancel reply