On Collecting Songbooks

Quite a few Southern Gospel fans collect albums by recording artists. Fewer collect convention songbooks. Yet it strikes me as a fascinating hobby to take up. With that in mind—and for the benefit of any other readers also considering collecting convention songbooks—here are a couple of questions for those of you who do have such collections:

(1) It would seem that the songbooks of the Stamps, Stamps-Baxter, Vaughan, and R.E. Winsett companies are fairly obvious series to collect. Which other publishers’ collections are particularly strong, especially in having introduced original material?

(2) When collecting songbooks, nothing is more useful than knowing what you’re looking for. In that light, this list of Stamps-Baxter songbooks is immensely helpful. Do similar lists exist of the Stamps, Vaughan and Winsett releases?

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17 Letters to the Editor

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  1. I can’t answer either of your questions, but I too love these old convention songbooks. I tried to start a collection a while back, but didn’t get very far before my financial priorities shifted away from it. I have maybe 10-15 books, I’m thinking about half of them Stamps Baxter.

    • My collections tend to be very slow-growing; I tend to start with only the best deals, and maybe slowly build until a collection is nearly complete, at which point I’ll pay a little more to fill in the last few holes. But, for me, the key to starting a collection is to have a target list of things I’m looking for.

  2. I offered these two links for enhancement of your thought process which is an excellent subject.
    There is a history of crossover between pure southen gospel music and the mainstream evangelical campmeetings and conventions. In the southern gospel music, you know what is in the songbook by looking at the cover.
    You would have to check the index of songs and songriters in the songbooks used in the mainstream evangelical campmeetings to know the content.
    Adding history to the search, you will find the mainstream search results closely resembles the base of southern gospel music over the years to the present.
    It is important to note that the campmeetings you might see on network television is not the same as the campmeetings in this thread.

    From the perspective of southern gospel music which is the subject at hand:


    The mainstream of the evangelical movement would be more familiar with the following search results:


    Here is a good link:

  3. There are a lot of companies that produce convention style song books yearly to be used at their annual singing schools. With a little research you could probably find a quite a few that would be worth collecting. One company I am familiar with, and one I know would be worth collecting for its consistent quality material, is produced by Jeffress/Phillips Music Company. On their website, http://jeffressphillipsmusic.com/, there is an option to order their 2013 song book. While I did not see an option to purchase older song books, I’m sure simply sending a request for older items is all it would take.

    • Thanks! My main interest is in the classic historical series of the publishers that brought Southern Gospel into existence.

  4. How about a song book that has such great Southern Gospel songs as: “How Big Is God”, “Teach Me, Lord, To Wait”, “This Ole House”, and “Until Then”; all written by the same man, Stuart Hamblen. There are other greats in this song book as well, such as “Open Up Your Heart (And Let The Sun Shine In)”, and I wish it had “It Is No Secret (What God Can Do)”, but it is missing that one from Stuart’s song list. The song book, “Stuart Hamblen Gospel Songs, Piano Vocal” has 17 songs, all written by Stuart Hamblen and was published in 1968, AND is still available! It can be found at: http://www.hamblenmusic.com/home/whats-available/gospel-song-collections-choral-collections/gospel-song-collections

    Bill Lindsay
    Hamblen Music Company

    (I just HAD to respond to this post!)

  5. Jeffress/Phillips is another convention style book with original songs. They’re out of Crossett, AR. Publisher is Marty Phillips who wrote “What a Meeting”. Their annual singing school is the last week in June and the first week in July. Over 50 years old and getting stronger every year!

    • Thank you! I should clarify, from my original post, that I am primarily interested in starting to collect songbooks/series from historical publishers – e.g. the ones that created Southern Gospel between 1910-1940 (even if the series extended beyond that point).

  6. Benson published a 12 volume series titled _New Songs Of Inspiration_. Volumes 1-9 are now out of print and have been for at least 20 years. Most of those early volumes that I’ve seen were released as paperbacks with a art photo of Christ on the covers.

    You can still order volumes 10, 11, 12 and the Best Of book in direct from Brentwood-Benson in hardcover.

    When I worked in Christian retail, I placed special orders for those books on a fairly regular basis.

    These were probably published at some point after 1940, though I’m not sure of the original publication dates.


    • Thank you! I think I might have one of those; that title sounds quite familiar.

  7. One suggestion submitted by email: A reader suggests the songbooks of the Hartford Music Company (E.M. Bartlett, Albert E. Brumley). That’s a great suggestion – one I will definitely add to my list!

  8. Charles Towler (great writer) has been publishing a book since 1999 with his “Gospel Heritage Music Company.” He was an editor for the Vaughan company for many years. Eugene McCammon, a former Stamps-Baxter writer, edits and publishes the songbook for the Cumberland Valley Music company since the early 1990s. Ben Speer Music published a book annually from 1989 through 2004. Those, in addition to the Jeffress-Phillips company, are the most popular of the current stable of publishers.

    • Thank you! And for recent books, the ones you’ve come out with are excellent, too.

  9. Daniel: I collect songbooks. Having my roots in the convention world, I consider my books my treasures and since I am from the Dallas, TX area, I will see Stamps Quartet and Stamps-Baxter songbooks quite often. I did serve as the curator at the SGMA for several years, so I was exposed to some of the companies that I had never had the privilege of seeing books from other publishers than just the Texas books. I was able to find some of the books from these publishers too!

    Of course, some of the larger companies were James D Vaughn (later publised by Tennesee Publishing), Hartford, RE Winsett, National Music Company (also a TX book). A list of the books still being pubished can be found at http://www.gospelsingingconventions.com. I would encourage everyone to start purchasing the new books now. I would especially encourage everyone to go to a singing convention. It so happens that the National Singing Convention will be held in Mt. Pleasant, TX this year.

    So many popular songs were first published in the convention books: Jesus is Coming Soon (Winsett), Walking the Sea, Beautiful Star of Bethlehem, and Oh, What a Savior (Stamps-Baxter)….and so many more.

    Happy Hunting!

    • Liz,

      Thank you very much! That is very helpful!

  10. Hello! I am trying to locate a song(lyrics and music) written by Clyde Williams “One of These Days”. My 83 year old piano teacher plays it but doesn’t have the music. She tells me it was published in a Convention Song book in the seventies. Does anyone know where it can be found? I believe the first verse and chorus are as follows:

    One of these days, you intend to do right.
    Out of the dark to the beautiful light.

    All that you need is your courage to raise.
    Death will soon overtake, One of the days.


    One of the days, Yes one of these days,
    You will forsake all your wondering ways.
    Such is the thought but the risk is too great.
    Death will soon overtake, One of these days.