Dr. Forrest Mason McCann, professor emeritus of English and an esteemed historian in church hymnology, died Nov. 23, 2020, in Abilene, Texas at age 89.
A graveside service will be held at the Lometa (Texas) City Cemetery at 11 a.m. Nov. 25, 2020, under the direction of Piersall Funeral Directors (733 Butternut, Abilene, Texas 79602).
McCann was born Oct. 12, 1931, in Lometa and graduated from Florida Christian High School in Tampa in 1948. He married Clara Lugenia Moore (’77) on June 10, 1952, in Gainesville, Florida.
He earned an A.A. degree from Florida Christian College (1950), a B.A. degree (1952) and M.A. in Spanish and English (1966) – both from the University of Florida – and a Ph.D. from Texas Tech University (1980).
McCann served as a full-time minister in Florida congregations in Plant City, Cedar Key, Gainesville and Lake Butler, and in Mount Pleasant, Tennessee. He taught Spanish and English at Union County (Florida) High School from 1965-68 before joining the ACU English faculty in 1968 as an assistant professor.
He became associate professor in 1976, professor in 1986 and retired in 1996 as professor emeritus. He coordinated ACU’s English as a Second Language program and received the Faculty Senate Award in 1996. He also served as a text consultant for the Abilene ISD and Abilene Christian Schools.
McCann was known widely as an expert on church hymnology. He served as editor of the last two versions of Elmer Leon Jorgenson’s Great Songs of the Church, the longest-lived hymnal in the Stone-Campbell branch of the American Restoration Movement. In 1986, ACU Press published – with McCann as editor in chief and Dr. Jack Boyd as music editor – Great Songs of the Church, Revised, the first total remake of Jorgenson’s project since it was created in 1921.
In 1997, McCann authored Hymns and History: An Annotated Survey of Sources, a 600-page reference book on Restoration Movement hymnody and facts about every title, tune, composer and author in Great Songs.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Dewey Forrest McCann and Jean Olive Salyer; and a brother, George Aubra McCann.
Among survivors are Clara, his wife of 68 years: sons David McCann (’79) and his wife, Lesa (Bolen ’79), and John McCann (’80); a daughter, Carol Jeananne McCann (’81), of Abilene; and grandchildren Forrest Ryan McCann, Shelly Kathryn (McCann ’15) Allison, Molly McCann and Mason McCann.
— Ron Hadfield
Nov. 23, 2020