Be on the lookout: Henry Halley’s Bible Handbook – Update!

[Back in February 2020 I (Mac) blogged about Henry Halley’s little Bible handbook.  Since then we received a few copies and I have edited this post to reflect our current holdings.  If you have a copy you would like to donate, please contact me.  We need a nice full shelf of these handbooks.]

Our goal is to build a comprehensive research-level collection that can support a very wide array of research needs in Restoration history and thought.  To that end we aim for fullness in our collections.  And that means we are always on the lookout to fill gaps in the collection.  And that means we are always looking for partners who value this mission.  Many donors over many years built a fine collection.  As we look to further enrich it, we can only do so through the kindness and generosity of partners and who donate materials, ensuring their long-term preservation and availability for research.

One scholar from our past, Henry Halley, had a far-reaching impact on evangelical Bible students through the many editions of his simple Pocket Bible Hand Book.  Halley studied at College of the Bible in Lexington, Kentucky under John William McGarvey and Isaiah Boone Grubbs.  Upon graduation he began a career of preaching and teaching.  His Bible teaching often took the form of intensive seminars in which the Bible was read, studied, and memorized.  Halley’s first edition of his Bible Hand Book consisted of the notes, comments, and supporting material he used in these Bible readings.  Over time he adapted and expanded his work, always with an eye toward making the content of the English Bible more accessible to any who wished to study it.

Halley’s Bible Handbook, New Revised Edition, 1965

Biography of Henry Halley, from the dust jacket of Halley’s Bible Handbook, New Revised Edition, 1965

We have editions from:

1946 – 17th edition
1954 – 19th edition
1955 – 20th and a Spanish language edition from 1955
1957 – 21st edition
1959 – 22nd edition
1962 – 23rd edition
1963 – 23rd edition
1965 – 24th edition

By 1980 it reached its 24th edition (and that edition by 1980 reached its 38th printing).  The first edition was a 16-page booklet, and later editions filled out nearly 1000 pages.  This is an astounding publishing record, and we think our collection should more adequately represent the breadth of Halley’s work.  We especially seek early volumes, and the Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Italian, and Greek translations.

Description of Halley’s Bible Handbook, back cover of the New Revised Edition, 1965

Title Page, Halley’s Bible Handbook, New Revised Edition, 1965

Foreword, Halley’s Bible Handbook, New Revised Edition, 1965

Foreword, Halley’s Bible Handbook, New Revised Edition, 1965

Printing History, Halley’s Bible Handbook, New Revised Edition, 1965

Printing History, Halley’s Bible Handbook, New Revised Edition, 1965

Can you help fill in these gaps?  Do you have a copy of one of these many editions we lack, and would you send it to us for the benefit of students and researchers?  Let’s partner together to build a comprehensive research-level collection.  Contact Mac Ice at or 325-674-2144.

Be on the lookout: Focus Magazine

Today a researcher inquired about our holdings of Focus Magazine. I was thrilled that he discovered our issues through the library online catalog…(cataloging unbound periodical issues has been a special focus lately). We have just three issues but we need a nice robust collection of this journal. Pictured here are scans of the covers of the issues we hold. Can you please help us build the collection?

Focus Magazine, February 2000, front cover

Focus Magazine, February 2000, front cover

Focus Magazine, April 2000, front cover

Focus Magazine, April 2000, front cover

Focus Magazine, May 2000, front cover

Be on the lookout: A great set of Great Songs of the Church

Likely no other hymnal shaped Churches of Christ in the 20th century like Elmer Leon Jorgenson’s Great Songs of the Church.  He issued the first edition in 1921, made a few changes here and there before issuing a revised edition in 1937 (Great Songs #2).  The #2 revision was issued in round and shaped notes under the imprint of Great Songs Press (Chicago), World Vision Publishing Company (Nashville), Chronicle Publishing Company (Abilene), and Standard Publishing Company (Cincinnati) before Abilene Christian College acquired the book in the 1950s.  In 1943 Jorgenson issued a slim paperback book for use in gospel meetings: Great Gospel Songs for Tent and Tabernacle.

Over the years, many, many people remember singing from ‘old blue’ (or was it red?, or green?).  Yes.  It was blue, and red, and green.

Great Songs of the Church: 1921 (green, 1st edition), 1948 (red, 28th edition), and 1955 (blue, 34th edition)

We have many editions and printings of Great Songs, but we do not have a full set.

Great Songs of the Church

Here is brief list of the copies we hold:

Of the first edition we have:

Of #2 we have:
1948 (28th printing)
1949 (29th printing)
1955 (34th printing)
1959 (37th printing)
1960 (38th printing)
1961 (39th printing)
1962 (40th printing)
1963 (41st printing)
1964 (42nd printing)
1965 (43rd printing)
1966 (44th printing)
1967 (45th printing)
1968 (46th printing)
1969 (47th printing)
1970 (48th printing)
1971 (49th printing)
1973 (51st printing)
1974 (56th printing)
1974 (59th printing)
1975 (marked ‘2nd edition’)
1976 (53rd printing)
1976 (54th printing)
1979 (55th printing)

In 1986 ACU Press issued a through revision. We have copies of this revision both as a stand alone hymnal and as part of a commemorative set with Forrest McCann’s book, Hymns and History. This set was issued as one of the ACU President’s Circle limited editions.

In 1975 Abilene Christian College issued a supplement to the hymnal, which we also hold. Dr. Jack Boyd, Director of Choral Activities at ACC at the time, oversaw production of a set of long-playing records to accompany this supplement. Side 8 includes Jack Boyd speaking on teaching new hymns to the congregation. This digital file consists of Dr. Boyd’s lecture.

However, in the 1940s, E. L. Jorgenson issued sets of records, produced out of Chicago using members of Chicagao-land Churches of Christ as singers. We do not have these records, and would very much like to locate them.

Brass printing plates used in the production of Great Songs of the Church

My appeal:  we should assemble as quickly as possible a full complete set of Great Songs of the Church It was a monumental hymnal, an achievement on behalf of Churches of Christ unequalled in its time for its scope, breadth, depth, and quality of songs.  And it shaped generations of singers and worshippers.  Take a second look at the photo of the shelves above.  Just the fact that it was issued so many times indicates the demand for the book sustained, on average, one printing per year for over fifty years.  The sheer number of printings is itself a testimony to its wide use.  I would like to assemble a fine set of at least two excellent condition copies of each printing, by each publisher.  Great Songs is a remarkable book, and we should preserve a remarkable set.  A full set will serve any kind of research inquiry into this book for decades and decades to come.  Can you help us us achieve this goal?  Will you please check your shelves for copies we lack?  Contact Mac Ice at to help preserve this slice of history.