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 Wayne Hillard Hooper, 1949.

Photo courtesy of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Archives.

Hooper, Wayne Hillard (1920–2007)

By Dan Shultz

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Dan Shultz, emeritus professor of music, Walla Walla University, has researched and written extensively about Seventh-day Adventist music history and musicians. His publications include A Great Tradition–a history of music at Walla Walla University, and the Adventist Musicians Biographical Resource–an encyclopedia with biographies of over 1100 Adventist musicians. He founded the International Adventist Musicians Association, serving as its president for ten years and editing its publications and website for over thirty years. Shultz and his wife, Carolyn (nee Stevens), live in College Place, Washington.   

First Published: January 29, 2020

Wayne H. Hooper created a vast legacy in music for the Seventh-day Adventist church as a performer, composer, and arranger.

Early Life, Education and Early Career

Wayne H. Hooper was born July 4, 1920, in Little Rock, Arkansas, one of seven children of Thomas Jefferson and Ethel Robinson Hooper. The Hoopers raised their children to value both music and service to the church. Thomas Hooper was publishing secretary for the Arkansas Conference and a noted camp meeting song leader and singing school teacher. From Wayne’s earliest years, hymn singing in four parts was part of daily morning worship activity, which created an unusual closeness within the family. At age twelve, Wayne started singing for evangelistic meetings.1

When difficulties overtook the family during the Great Depression, they moved frequently, eventually settling in Caldwell, Idaho. There, Wayne attended Gem State Academy while working in its bakery to pay his way. He sang in quartets and other vocal groups, played the baritone horn in the band, and made his first music ensemble arrangements. Following graduation in 1938, he attended Southern California Junior College, now La Sierra University, where he studied music and earned his way by working as a plumber and house painter.2

At SCJC, Wayne met Harriet Schwender, whom he married on July 21, 1941.3 They would have four children: James, Jan (Lind), David and Dan.4 Soon after their marriage, they moved to Oregon, where Wayne taught music and shorthand at Portland Union Academy, now Portland Adventist Academy. He also sang as a soloist on The Quiet Hour radio program, and led song services for an H.M.S. Richards evangelistic crusade. At the end of eighteen months in Portland, the Hoopers spent a year in Virginia where Wayne assisted his uncle, Roy Edward Griffin, as a singing evangelist.5

An invitation to sing baritone in the King’s Heralds quartet on the Voice of Prophecy radio program brought Hooper and his family back to California. He began at the VOP in January 1944, a time when contention over musical styles surrounded the quartet. Classically-trained musicians who objected to the quartet’s heavy use of gospel music convinced the North American Radio Commission at the General Conference that changes were necessary. The actions of George Greer, followed by Lon Metcalfe, both choir directors employed to implement change, brought them into conflict with the quartet and with VOP speaker and director H.M.S. Richards. Over Richards’ objections, Hooper and two other members of the quartet were released in 1947.6

Hooper, who had been wanting to continue his education, enrolled as a music major at Union College. When he arrived at Union, he was part of a huge influx of students, many of them World War II veterans taking advantage of the educational benefits provided by the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 (G.I. Bill). Over 500 students were enrolled in music lessons and ensembles that fall.7

Though a student, Hooper, because of his prior experience, was enlisted also to teach voice, coach male quartets, and direct both Oriana, a lower division choir, and Orpheus, a male chorus.8 It was an exciting time for music on the campus, with a new music building and teachers such as Harlyn Abel, who had just come from SCJC, where he had earlier known Hooper as a student, directing the choirs; Opal Miller teaching theory; and Raymond Casey, a talented former Navy bandsman, directing the band, in which Hooper played as one of eight trombonists. Hooper thoroughly enjoyed his studies and reveled in his role as a teacher and ensemble director during those two years.9 He graduated in 1949 magna cum laude with a music degree and as valedictorian of his class.

Hooper’s association with the Hub of Harmony, a popular African-American quartet and chorus at UC, directed by Frank Hale,10 would have a profound impact on his future work. He rode with them in a station wagon as they toured in the South, witnessing firsthand the racial segregation that then prevailed in that region. He gained an appreciation for spirituals and the way in which they were sung and drew on that experience when he later introduced them to the King’s Heralds quartet that he was soon to rejoin.11

The King’s Heralds and the Voice of Prophecy

By 1949 the turmoil at the VOP had subsided, and Hooper was invited to return and form a new quartet. With the circumstances of his departure two years earlier in mind, he accepted only after receiving assurance that he would have the freedom to choose members for the quartet and the music they would sing.12

The quartet he assembled, with its unique blend of voices, sang together for the next twelve years, providing the needed stability in music at the VOP that would allow H.M.S. Richards to focus on other aspects of the program. During that time, the group's singing of Hooper's arrangements, coupled with recording innovations and the subsequent release of numerous quality records, would define the King's Heralds sound for millions of listeners.13

“He set the style of the VOP music with his unique and spirited male voice arrangements. Budding male quartets around the world wrote for copies of Wayne's arrangements. No matter where I travel . . . I still hear male quartets singing Wayne's arrangements,” wrote Bob Edwards, another member of the quartet.14

The song “We Have This Hope” was Hooper’s best known achievement as an arranger and composer. It became an instant hit when it was introduced as the theme song for the 1962 General Conference session in San Francisco. Its enduring appeal is attested by its use again as the theme song in GC sessions in Detroit, Michigan (1966); Vienna, Austria (1975); and Utrecht, Netherlands (1995)15 as well as in countless settings around the world.

During his years with the quartet, Hooper was ordained as a minister at the Lynwood camp meeting in 195516 and completed a master’s degree in music in 1957 at Occidental College with emphases in composition, choral conducting, and radiobroadcasting.17

Hooper sang with the quartet until 1962, when he left to become musical director of the broadcast. Aside from arranging and directing, he oversaw the development and marketing for Hosanna House, a VOP venture in music publishing, served as an arranger and orchestrator for Chapel Records, and assisted H.M.S. Richards in recording the King James Bible. He retired in 1980.18

A New Hymnal and Musical Memory Verses

After his retirement, Hooper continued to work on special projects for the VOP and the church. Also, as he had done during his many years with the program, he continued to serve as a gentle mediator during moments when, due to changing times and difficult decisions at the VOP, misunderstandings developed.19

In 1986, Andrews University honored him with an honorary D.Mus., and in 2002, La Sierra University awarded him another honorary doctorate. As satisfying as these recognitions were, Hooper found two projects undertaken during his later years to be among the most rewarding experiences of his career: composition of musical settings for memory verses used in Sabbath School, and his part in creating the new SDA hymnal, released in 1985.20

Beginning in 1977, Hooper began to set the memory verses to music, eventually doing the complete three-year cycle of 156 verses. These were arranged and recorded by singers such as Bob Edwards, Maurita Thornburgh-Phillips, Coleen Edwards, and Pat Taylor, who were accompanied on piano by Calvin Taylor. Recorded on cassettes, they were distributed as Sing a Bible Verse for use in Sabbath Schools worldwide. They became very popular and, when later the memory verses were changed from the King James’ Version to the New International Version, they were rewritten and re-recorded starting in 1995.21

In 1981, the General Conference invited Hooper to coordinate the development of a new hymnal. He served as executive secretary of the working committee and, with Mel West, worked as a musical editor for the project. He and Harriet, who assisted him in his work, helped keep the group on schedule so that they could complete their task in time for the printing of the hymnal and its introduction at the 1985 General Conference Session.22 His musical contributions to the hymnal project included ten arrangements for older hymn tunes and nine original hymn tunes, including the one for his hymn “We Have This Hope.”23

With the completion of the hymnal, Hooper and Edward E. White immediately began another related project: the compiling and writing of a resource book with information about each hymn with brief biographical sketches of writers and composers who were represented by five or more hymns. The resulting reference work, Companion to the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal, was released in 1988.

Hooper remained active as an arranger, utilizing the latest in computerized resources in his work. One of his last projects was the restoring of older King's Herald quartet recordings to pristine quality for release in CD format.24

He and Del Delker accompanied members of the VOP, traveling to Adventist colleges and universities in 2004 to join with campus music groups in celebrating the radio program's 75th Anniversary. Although he enjoyed the concerts, renewal of friendships, and celebrating the success of the VOP, he was unhappy with some of the changes that had taken place in music used in the broadcast in recent years, and particularly with the upbeat country and western style of music that was predominant in the anniversary concerts.25

Contribution

With his talents and commitment to service, Hooper provided an exceptional ministry in music to the Adventist church. He played an outsized role in guiding the evolution of the Voice of Prophesy’s music program, was pivotal in the creation of a landmark hymnal for the church, and gave enduring musical expression to Adventist faith in “We Have This Hope.” His leadership in promoting quality music through the years has continued to be felt during a time of challenging changes in sacred music.

Following a prolonged illness, Wayne Hooper died February 28, 2007, at age 86, in Newbury Park, California.26

Sources

Edwards, Robert. H.M.S. Richards. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1998.

Edwards, Robert E. “Singing as I Go,” Adventist Heritage 14, No. 1 (Spring 1991): 42-46.

Hooper, Wayne. “The Making of the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal.” Adventist Heritage 14, No. 1 (Spring 1991): 12-17

Hooper, Wayne and Edward E. White. Companion to the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1988).

Shultz, Dan. “Wayne H. Hooper.” Notes, Winter/Spring 2005. www.iamaonline.com.

“Wayne Hooper’s Final Life Sketch and Eulogy.” Memorial Service program, May 5, 2007. Adventist Musicians Biographical Resource. http://www.iamaonline.com/Bio/Wayne_H_Hooper.htm.

Notes

  1. Wayne Hooper and Edward E. White, Companion to the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1988), 640; Roy F. Cottrell, Forward in Faith (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1945), 50; Dan Shultz, “Wayne H. Hooper,” biography in Notes, publication of International Adventist Musicians Association (IAMA), Winter/Spring 2005, (www.iamaonline.com, Notes), 9-10. The Notes biography was reviewed and approved by Hooper before it was printed.

  2. Hooper and White, 640-641; “Wayne Hooper’s Final Life Sketch and Eulogy,” unknown writer, May 5, 2007, paragraphs 3, 4. Edited version available at http://www.iamaonline.com/members.html (Hooper biography), hereafter referred to as “Hooper Life Sketch and Eulogy.”

  3. “Hooper Life Sketch and Eulogy,” paragraph 5.

  4. “Hooper Life Sketch and Eulogy,” paragraphs 30, 32; U.S. Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014, Ancestry.com.

  5. Ibid, paragraph 6-8; Hooper and White, pg. 640.

  6. Robert Edwards, H.M.S. Richards (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1998), 193-196, 198, 201- 202; Wayne H. Hooper, interviews by author, February 10 and 14, 2005.

  7. “Singers Present Concert,” The Clock Tower, February 7, 1947, 1; Everett Dick, Union College, College of the Golden Cords (Lincoln, NE: Union College Press, 1967), 263; “Music at Union College,” Central Union Reaper, April 27, 1948, 1-2.

  8. 1948 Golden Cords, (Union College yearbook), 20, 104-109; 1949 Golden Cords, 34-38; “Music at Union College.”

  9. Shultz, 9.

  10. 1948 Golden Chords, 134.

  11. Edwards, H.M.S. Richards, 228.

  12. Edwards, H.M.S. Richards, 227. n.5.

  13. Edwards, H.M.S. Richards, 228.

  14. Robert E. Edwards, “Singing as I Go,” Adventist Heritage 14, No. 1 (Spring 1991): 45. All of Wayne Hooper's published and unpublished compositions and arrangements are available at the Voice of Prophecy website,

    www.vop.com/hoopermusic, and can be downloaded without charge for public use.

  15. Hooper and White, 257-258.

  16. “Hooper Life Sketch and Eulogy,” paragraph 13.

  17. Hooper and White, 641.

  18. Shultz, 9.

  19. Wayne H. Hooper, interviews by author, February 10 and 14, 2005.

  20. Ibid; Shultz, 10.

  21. Ibid.

  22. Ibid; Hooper and White, 9; Wayne Hooper, “The Making of the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal,” Adventist Heritage 14, No.1 (Spring 1991): 12-17.

  23. Hooper and White, 641-642.

  24. Shultz, 10.

  25. Wayne H. Hooper, interviews by author, February 10 and 14, 2005.

  26. “Hooper Life Sketch and Eulogy,” paragraphs 30, 32; U.S. Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014, Ancestry.com.

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Shultz, Dan. "Hooper, Wayne Hillard (1920–2007)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Accessed April 18, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=89I3.

Shultz, Dan. "Hooper, Wayne Hillard (1920–2007)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Date of access April 18, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=89I3.

Shultz, Dan (2020, January 29). Hooper, Wayne Hillard (1920–2007). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved April 18, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=89I3.