Boston University: School of Theology Library

Collection Size: 
745 Commonwealth Ave, Boston MA, USA 02215
French, German, Latin, Swedish
Methodist, Moravian
Email/Contact Person: 
Carl Daw,

The School of Theology Hymnological Collections began with the Nutter-Metcalf Hymnal Collection of approximately 2500 items, primarily nineteenth-century holdings, though there are several hundred earlier books (beginning in 1566). This original collection continues to be supplemented by numerous collections and donations as indicated at . Because the School of Theology is the oldest United Methodist seminary in the USA, the collections are particularly strong in Methodist works (exemplified by the Nutter-Metcalf, Rogers, and Woods collections), but there is also a good representation of most other Christian denominations. The corpus is especially noteworthy for early Americana and demonstration of the transition of British hymn versions and editions to the “colonies” (subsequently the United States and Canada). In 2004 the commercial publisher IDC reproduced on microfiche 561 Nutter-Metcalf titles dating between 1566 and 1890, which they are marketing as “Hymns of Spiritual and Social Revival in the Early United States” (see the description at Some early hymnals in German, including Moravian works, anthologies of Latin hymns, and occasional books or items in French (early Calvinist), Swedish (Midwestern), early Irish, etc., round out the collection, together with sometimes rare revivalist or camp-meeting materials and numerous oblong 19th-century tunebooks. The library collects hymnals, books of hymn texts and translations, and historical, liturgical, and devotional works relating to hymnology, from the earliest representations and editions to the present. Emphasis is given to additions from original-language sources. The collections include correspondence and photographs from C. S. Nutter, including letters to and from a few notable nineteenth-century American hymnists such as Fanny Crosby, Phillips Brooks, John Greenleaf Whittier, Julia Ward Howe, Robert Lowry, and Samuel Francis Smith. The archival records for these letters are available at It should also be noted that the 900-item collection of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, formerly at Union Seminary in New York, is now housed with these collections. Most of the collection is cataloged online, though as of March 2012 approximately 2000 items remained uncataloged. Duplicate copies of many 20th-century and later items are available on the open stacks, but most materials have only closed-stacks access. The latter items may be read in a designated research area after retrieval by a staff member. Copying will be considered on a case by case basis at the discretion of the Archivist and Special Collections Librarian. In addition to the contact information listed above, inquiries may be directed to the Curator of Hymnological Collections, Carl P. Daw, Jr., at