One could usually hear Mr. Dowling whistling all the way down the hall. It seems like he was always whistling a happy tune because he just loved to whistle. The truth was, Enos Dowling actually loved music, and whistling was just one way for him to express that love (he was also an accomplished violinist). Perhaps the greatest expression, however, of Mr. Dowling's love for music was his beloved Restoration Hymnal Collection. To know this collection is to understand two of the great loves of his life: religious music and the Restoration Movement.
This website is a technological tribute to the man and his music. The man is Enos Dowling (1905-1997), and the music is his lifetime collection of more than 2,000 rare hymnals, including nearly 200 affiliated with the Restoration Movement that arose from the 19th century Stone-Campbell religious heritage on the American frontier.
Mr. Dowling was born in southern Indiana on March 7, 1905. He married Thelma LaVerne King on July 7, 1925; the couple bore two children, Kingsley and Anita. After graduating from Vincennes University and Hanover College in 1927 and 1929 respectively, Mr. Dowling completed the B.D. (1937), M.A. (1943), and M.Th. (1957) degrees at Butler University and the Butler School of Religion, as well as the M.L.S. (1944) from the University of Illinois. He started preaching when he was only eighteen, holding ministries in seven different churches in Indiana from 1925 to 1953, with his longest ministry at Advance (1929-1935). While serving as the head librarian at the Butler School of Religion in Indianapolis from 1939 to 1951, Mr. Dowling began to develop his fascination for books, especially history books and hymnbooks related to the Restoration Movement.
In 1953 Enos Dowling was called to be the first academic dean of Lincoln Christian Seminary in Lincoln, Illinois. For 21 years he served as the Seminary's chief academic officer, taught regularly in the classroom, and preached as often as he could. He is especially noted for his classic sermon entitled Love Is Like That. He wrote more than 30 volumes and scores of articles specializing in the publications and history of the Restoration Movement.
It was while teaching a class on the history of the Restoration Movement that the real seed for the Restoration Hymnal Collection was planted. After asking the class one day to name even one hymn writer or composer from the Restoration Movement, he was chagrined and challenged to hear-after a very long silence: "Well, there probably weren't any!" His collection of rare Restoration hymnals, second only to the Library of Congress, is a lasting testimony to the contrary.
Mr. Dowling retired as seminary dean in 1974 and spent the next 23 years teaching part-time and then serving as Research Librarian for the Jessie C. Eury Library of Lincoln Christian University. It was during this period that the bulk of his Restoration Hymnal Collection was acquired. When Mr. Dowling died on March 25, 1997, he bequeathed the entire collection to Lincoln Christian University. It is a fitting and lasting legacy to this man who loved music. If you open one of these rare hymnals, you can almost hear him whistling.