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Hope History

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History and Mission

Hope Publishing Company, a family-owned Christian music publisher, was born in a one-room office at 56 Fifth Avenue, Chicago in 1892. More than a century later, Hope continues to edify the church by providing new music resources to aid the church in the worship of Almighty God and His Son, Jesus Christ.

The Beginning (1892-1900)

Henry "Harry" Sheperd Date immigrated to Chicago with his family in 1861, at the age of thirteen. Hunchbacked from being dropped as a child, he was always frail, weighing only ninety pounds as a grown man. Nevertheless, he was spirited and energetic. A strong Christian, he yearned to be a preacher, but was unable to afford seminary, and therefore, became a Methodist evangelist instead.

In his evangelistic role, Date became the president and organizer of the Epworth League, a Methodist organization, founded to encourage the piety of its members. He strongly felt the need for a songbook, to be used in their meetings, but when he embarked upon the project he found the task too large for his funds. His brother lent him money, but this too was soon exhausted. Finally, he decided to publish "Pentecostal Hymns Advance Pages," a paperbound, 64-page book, which would precede the complete work. To house the project, Date rented a small office on Fifth Avenue. It held only a desk, a portable pump organ, and the stock of the small songbook.

Date announced the upcoming songbook and the immediate availability of the 64-page book of advance pages. Free sample copies of the little book were liberally distributed and orders began to pour in from all sections of the country, with sales reaching hundreds of thousands. When the long-anticipated, 224-page "Pentecostal Hymns" was published, it was an immediate success. Thus, Hope Publishing Company was born.

"I had very limited funds but a great deal of hope," said Date, reflecting on the company's founding. "In fact, all I had was hope and that is how the company got its name."

The Twentieth Century (1900-1920)

Date had two partners in the business, George Henry Shorney and Francis G. "Frank" Kingsbury. George Shorney, a distant relative and childhood friend of Date's, had come to the United States alone in 1884 after a disagreement with his father over modern farming equipment. He earned his passage through long hours on a cattle boat, swishing the cattle to keep them on their feet. Kingsbury was Date's cousin, who joined Hope in 1896 as an "office boy." The company incorporated in 1902 with Date as president, George Shorney as treasurer and general manager, and Kingsbury as secretary.

By the Christmas season of 1900, Hope's logbook boasted 51 employees. Though they worked a six-day week, the office closed at 1p.m. in the slow summer months. In 1909, to house the growing company, Hope built a three-story, brick building at 5707 W. Lake St., seven miles west of the Chicago Loop, where operations would continue for the next 63 years.

A highlight of Hope's ongoing, positive relationship with its employees occurred in 1911, with the establishment of a policy providing a free afternoon for Christmas shopping. Succeeding management speculates that the practice was instituted after a reading of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. This time-honored tradition continues to this day.

Hope endured the difficulties and changes evoked by the Great War (1917-1918). Despite Henry Date's death in 1915, and the resulting reorganization of management, the company continued to flourish. George H. Shorney became president, but when he died suddenly of pneumonia in 1919, Frank Kingsbury took the office of president. It was in this decade that Hope built a copyright library and negotiated acquisitions with some of the day's most important composers.

Peaceful Years (1920-1930)

Kingsbury's presidency ushered in a decade of change and prosperity. In 1922, Hope made one of its most important acquisitions, purchasing The Biglow & Main Company of New York. Founded in 1861, Biglow & Main was one of the earliest sacred music publishing companies in America, publishing music for renowned hymn writers such as Fanny Crosby, William B. Bradbury, Robert Lowry, Ira D. Sankey, William Howard Doane, and Philip P. Bliss. In the same decade, Tabernacle Publishing Company was purchased. Hope also acquired copyrights from Charles A. Tindley, composer of "Leave it There," and "Stand by Me." When Kingsbury retired in 1926, Gordon D. Shorney became Hope's fourth president.

A World in Upheaval (1930-1950)

Many companies were dissolved during the Great Depression. By 1932, Hope was reduced to 12 employees, and these were required to take two extra weeks of vacation without pay to reduce expenses. In spite of these hardships, Hope endured this difficult decade. The demand for church music grew during the Depression, as church attendance began to rise. In response, Hope published "The Service Hymnal" in 1935, which was a great success.

The 1940s proved to be more difficult than the Depression for Hope. The product line was decreased, and though "Tabernacle Hymns No. 4" was published in 1941, paper shortages delayed its widespread distribution until 1946. Despite the hard years, Hope made one of its more significant copyright agreements in 1943,acquiring "Great is Thy Faithfulness." The Methodist minister,Thomas O. Chisholm, penned the text of this enduring classic, and William M. Runyan, a music editor for Hope in the'40s, set it to music.

The Fortuitous Years (1950-1970)

Hope began 1950 with a fortuitous agreement, bringing Donald P. Hustad on staff as a part-time editor. Hustad remained with Hope for the next forty years, directing or editing six major hymnals. "The Worship and Service Hymnal" (1957), which he edited along with Gordon Shorney, has sold over two million copies to date. From 1961-1967, Hustad served as an organist for the Billy Graham Crusades with the famous gospel singer, George Beverly Shea. Also an excellent choral director and composer, Hope has released more than fifty of Hustad's original compositions. Through his vision and editorial expertise, he set the company's agenda for the next thirty years. In 1991, Hustad became Hope's first emeritus editor.

In 1966 Hope welcomed another gifted editor and composer, hiring its first full-time editor, John F. Wilson. Now editor emeritus, he has written choral, piano, and organ pieces, as well as a number of musicals. One of his first projects was "A Time to Sing," a collection of folk songs that sold over one million copies. More than 300 hundred of Wilson's compositions and arrangements have been published, many of which can still be found in Hope's catalog. A series of Wilson's most popular children's musicals, including: "It's Music," and "I Believe," was published by Somerset Press, an educational division of Hope begun in 1968 through the encouragement of Editor Walter Rodby.

In 1964, Gordon Shorney died, and his brother, G. Herbert "Herb" Shorney assumed the president's office. Herb's son, George H. Shorney, who joined the company in 1958, directed the new publishing program under his father's presidency. Leaving a banking job in New York City, Herb's youngest son, William G. Bill" Shorney became the business and finance manager.

A Decade of Change (1970-1980)

Management restructuring was the opening agenda for 1970, though only a foreshadowing of the many changes that would shape Hope throughout this decade. One of the first changes was the formation of a new division, Agape, founded by Editor Carlton R. "Sam" Young. Though today the Agape division is strictly confined to handbells, it existed originally as an alternative to Hope's main product line.

After 63 years at its Chicago location, Hope moved to Carol Stream, Illinois. Here, a modern, one-story brick building was constructed, which has housed operations for over 30 years. One of the first publications at this location was Hustad's "Hymns for the Living Church" (1974), still in print today. Here, Hope also published Natalie Sleeth's anthem, "Joy in the Morning," in 1977.

The addition of new staff members, David Weck (1974) and Jack Schrader, (1978), continues to shape Hope today. Though Weck, a former schoolteacher, began working as a part-time employee in the shipping room, eight years later he became a full-time editor. He is responsible for the creation and development of the "Agape Handbell Catalog," the leading catalog of its kind in the country. Weck also directs The Agape Ringers, a community ensemble in the Chicago area, which he founded.

Schrader, arranger, composer, conductor, vocalist, and organist/pianist, joined Hope as a part-time editor. He became a full-time editor in 1984 and executive editor in 1992. An elder statesman of the company, he has been an integral part of Hope throughout his tenure. In his current role he is a choral arranger and oversees all of the company's various publishing enterprises.

The Hymn Explosion (1980-1990)

The 1980s established Hope as the United States' strongest representative of hymns and hymn writers. In 1980, Hope became the copyright agent for the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, an organization which promotes congregational song, the study of hymn origins, and the writing of new texts and tunes. Today the Hymn Society is directed by Carl P. Daw Jr., a renowned hymn writer, who assigned all his hymn copyrights to Hope in 1988. Some of his collections include, "A Year of Grace: Hymns for the Church Year," "To Sing God's Praise," and "New Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs."

Drastically expanded in the 1980s, was Hope's representation of hymn writers from the U.K. In 1981, Scotsman Tom Colvin signed a contract with Hope for the African hymns he collected during his years as a missionary in Africa. In the following years, contracts were finalized with seven significant British hymn writers, whose compositions are still published by Hope today: Brian Wren, Peter Cutts, Fred Pratt Green, Bishop Timothy Dudley-Smith, Erik Routley, John W. Wilson, and Cyril Taylor. Hope now held the U.S. and Canadian rights to several hundred of the most important hymns and hymn copyrights written during the last half of the 20th Century.

In 1985, Hope reached an important agreement with Jubilate Hymns Ltd., a Christian publishing company in the U.K., which gave Hope the right to administer their copyrights in the United States and Canada. This agreement brought a group of significant hymn writers including Bishop Michael A. Baughen, Michael Saward, Michael Perry, Christopher Idle, and David Mowbray. A similar agreement was reached in 1988 with distinguished British publisher of Hymns Ancient and Modern, Gordon Knights, which allowed Hope to represent their copyrights in all territories except the U.K.

The new volume of material from the 1980s' acquisitions was so great that husband and wife, John Carter and Mary Kay Beall, whose compositions are also represented by Hope, were hired as non-resident editors. Also, an agreement made Christian Copyright Licensing, Inc. of Portland, Ore. responsible for representing Hope's catalog to churches. A similar agreement was reached shortly thereafter with Canadian company, LiscenSing.

Other hymn copyrights acquired by Hope in the 1980s were by composers such as Margaret Clarkson, Jeffery Rowthorn, Jane Marshall, Hal Hopson, Rusty Edwards, Carl Schalk, Ken Medema, Janie Alford, William Rowan, and Tom Fettke. In 1980, colleagues Dick Avery and Donald S.Marsh assigned their copyrights to Hope. Their choral pieces are still found in Hope's catalog. The volume and quality of the hymns acquired by throughout the decade combined to make Hope one of today's leaders in hymnody.

The Promising 1990s (1990-2000)

Hope began the last decade of the 20th century with the publication of "The Worshiping Church: A Hymnal." Compiled by Hustad, it took over six years of intensive preparation and a 26 member editorial committee to produce.

Shirley Erena Murray, of Wellington, New Zealand, entered into an agreement with Hope in 1991. Today, Murray is one of Hope's most popular hymn writers, with best-selling collections such as, "In Every Corner Sing," "Every Day in Your Spirit," and "Faith Makes the Song." Her fourth collection, "Touch the Earth Lightly," was released in the summer of 2008. Hope's composer, Colin Gibson, also from New Zealand, has set many of her hymns to music.

The '90s also brought several other important agreements. Contracts were signed with Carol and Keith Wakefield of Stainer & Bell Ltd. and Nigel Coltman of Copycare International, expanding the distribution of Hope products to the U.K. and other select countries. Sydney B. Carter, composer of the stirring hymn, "Lord of the Dance," also signed a contract with Hope. Jane Holstein, one of today's full-time editors, joined Hope as an associate editor in 1991.

The New Century (2000-present)

Longstanding members of Hope's team, George and Bill Shorney, retired December 31, 2001. The new year commenced with John Shorney as president, and Scott and Steve Shorney as vice-presidents. On January 1, 2008, Joel Raney signed on to the team as an associate editor.

Handbell, hymn, choral, and keyboard divisions have flourished at Hope in the new century. In hymnody, Hope celebrated the new millennium with the publication of "Worship and Rejoice," a diverse hymnal, featuring traditional and contemporary hymns by composers around the world.

Under David Weck's direction, the handbell catalog has continued to thrive, with prolific handbell arrangers and composers such as Cynthia Dobrinski, Arnold Sherman, Barbara Kinyon, Peggy Bettcher, and Kevin McChesney.

Choral music now composes the largest part of the music catalog, due in large part to Jack Schrader's leadership. Outstanding composers such as Joel Raney, Lloyd Larson, Doug Wagner, Hal Hopson, Larry Shackley, and Allen Pote frequently highlight new choral issues.

All keyboard publications are directed by Jane Holstein, who became a full-time editor in 1996, to assist in the compilation of "Worship and Rejoice." Holstein is also involved as a choral editor. She has added extensively to the keyboard catalog with works of significant composers such as Joel Raney, John Behnke, David Cherwien, and a series of piano books by Ellen Banks Elwell.

Ongoing Legacy

Today, we look back with gratitude and forward with hope. As we enter a second century, Hope continues to carry on its rich legacy, edifying the body of Christ through music that uplifts the heart, soul, and mind to worship our Almighty God and His Son, Jesus Christ.

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