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Bishop Payne Library Receives Large Collection of Rare Books from the Washington National Cathedral


Media Contact: Curtis Prather
Tel: 703-461-1782
Email: cprather@vts.edu

Alexandria, VA – Virginia Theological Seminary is pleased to announce that the Washington National Cathedral has donated over 2,500 rare books related to church music, liturgy, and theology to the seminary’s Bishop Payne Library.

The Cathedral transferred three named collections of rare books to Virginia Seminary:

• The Winfred Douglas Memorial Collection of books relating to hymnology, plainsong, liturgy and church music (over 1,900 volumes); also Douglas music transcripts and manuscript material
• The Elmer G. and Esther K. Beamer Collection of Books of Common Prayer (400 volumes)
• The Mrs. Franklin E. Parker, Jr. Collection of church history and theology (200 volumes)

“This is a new chapter in the rich partnership that has been shared for many years between the Cathedral and Virginia Seminary in mutual service to the Episcopal Church,” said the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, dean and president of Virginia Theological Seminary. “We are enormously pleased to receive this gift.”

This gift nearly doubles the size of the Bishop Payne Library rare book holdings, which previously contained about 1,570 works, including Bibles and commentaries, theological works, Anglican and Episcopal Church history, and editions of the Book of Common Prayer. These new collections will be cataloged and the records will be available in the online library catalog.

Canon Winfred Douglas, the editor of the previous Episcopal hymnal (Hymnal 1940), was one of the eminent scholars and musicians of his generation, according to Dr. William Bradley Roberts, Professor of Church Music. “His collection alone is a major acquisition. The presence of these three collections at the Bishop Payne Library represents substantially increased potential for scholarly research,” Roberts said.

Mitzi Budde, Head Librarian and Professor, observes: “The Douglas, Beamer, and Parker collections will deepen the Bishop Payne Library’s existing holdings of over 4,000 volumes in church music, liturgy, and hymnody. Adding these additional rare research resources to the Bishop Payne Library reflects the mutual commitment of the seminary and the Cathedral to making these historic treasures more widely available for musicians and clergy, students and faculty, researchers and historians, both now and for generations yet to come.”

The Bishop Payne Library holds over 223,000 volumes. Last year the library staff responded to over 2,500 reference inquiries and circulated 11,130 physical items and 6,806 online articles. The library houses two rare Assyrian reliefs, acquired by the seminary in 1859. The library also curates the seminary archives and the African American Episcopal Historical Collection, a joint project with the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church, which documents the experiences of African Americans in the life and ministry of the Episcopal Church.

Founded in 1823, Virginia Theological Seminary is the largest of the 11 accredited seminaries of the Episcopal Church. The school prepares men and women for service in the Church worldwide, both as ordained and lay ministers, and offers a number of professional degree programs and diplomas. Currently, the Seminary represents more than 42 different dioceses and 5 different countries, for service in the Church.
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