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Cliff Barrows music collection donated to Southern Seminary

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–While relocating his residence from Atlanta to Charlotte, N.C., this fall, Cliff Barrows realized his vast collection of hymnals and music books needed a new home as well.

Barrows, longtime music and programming director for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, decided to contact an old friend for a recommendation as to where the collection might best continue to serve the work of Christ.

The friend was Donald Hustad, retired professor of church music at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and former organist for Billy Graham’s crusade teams.

“I knew I wouldn’t be able to use all those hymnals,” Barrows said. “When we moved here [Charlotte] from Atlanta, it was the perfect opportunity to donate them. I asked Don [Hustad] what I should do with all these hymnals. I wanted to give them to a library that will allow people to continue to use them.”

Last month Barrows donated his collection — 298 hymnals and 13 additional music-related books — to Boyce Centennial Library at Southern Seminary. He chose the seminary at Hustad’s urging and because of existing connections with Billy Graham via Southern’s school of missions, evangelism and church growth which bear Graham’s name. The seminary’s Boyce Library also contains a collection of materials from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s early years.

The Barrows collection includes songbooks from Graham crusades, compilations by Barrows, along with solo and duet songbooks used by the Graham ministry.

“We believe that the crusade compilations in particular will quickly become important for research as both the generations that sang those songs and the songs themselves fade from memory,” said Bruce L. Keisling, Southern Seminary’s librarian.

“The collection will provide insight into the role and use of music in the Graham crusades, and very importantly, complements the existing collection of Graham materials in Boyce Library.”

Barrows made it a point to buy hymnals from each country the Graham crusades visited, his favorites being from England and Scotland. Many hymnals in the collection are in foreign languages including French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Welsh, Russian and Swedish.

Barrows has served alongside Billy Graham for the past 58 years. Barrows, who says his favorite hymns are “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and “And Can It Be?” has a deep affinity for classic Christian hymns. Barrows says he is encouraged by a renewed interest in the hymns.

“I am glad to see a resurgence of interest in the old hymns,” Barrows said. “The words to the old hymns are full of great theology…. As Stephen Olford once said, great theology produces great hymnology which produces great doxology. I love the stories of the old hymns…. I believe God uses them to speak to the hearts of men today…. I hope this donation will be helpful to seminarians.”

Keisling said Barrows’s gift embodies the longstanding friendship between the Graham ministry and Southern Seminary.

“Librarians are always delighted to receive gifts like this because they add to the texture of a library’s collections,” Keisling said. “Mr. Barrows’ gift typifies and adds to the story of the long relationship between Southern Seminary, Billy Graham and evangelism in the 20th century.”
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  • Jeff Robinson

    Jeff Robinson is director of news and information at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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