1918 - 2000 Arranged by of "Angels sang out the sweet story" in Christmas Favorites John J. Overholt was born to an Amish family of limited means in the state of Ohio in 1918. As a child he was soon introduced to his father's personal collection of gospel songs and hymns, which was to have a marked influence on his later life. With his twin brother Joe, he early was exposed to the Amish-Mennonite tradition hymn-singing and praising worship.
An early career in Christian service led to a two-year period of relief work in the country of Poland following World War II. During that interim he began to gather many European songs and hymns as a personal hobby, not realizing that these selections would become invaluable to The Christian Hymnary which was begun in 1960 and completed twelve years later in 1972, with a compilation of 1000 songs, hymns and chorales. (The largest Menn. hymnal).
A second hymnal was begun simultaneously in the German language entitled Erweckungs Lieder Nr.1 which was brought to completion in 1986. This hymnal has a total of 200 selections with a small addendum of English hymns.
Mr. Overholt married in 1965 to an accomplished soprano Vera Marie Sommers, who was not to be outdone by her husband's creativity and compiled a hymnal of 156 selections entitled Be Glad and Sing, directed to children and youth and first printed in 1986.
During this later career of hymn publishing, Mr. Overholt also found time for Gospel team work throughout Europe. At this writing he is preparing for a 5th consecutive tour which he arranges and guides. The countries visited will be Belgium, Switzerland, France, Germany, Poland, USSR and Romania.
Mr. Overholt was called to the Christian ministry in 1957 and resides at Sarasota, Florida where he is co-minister of a Beachy Amish-Mennonite Church.
Five children were born to this family and all enjoy worship in song.
--Letter from Hannah Joanna Overholt to Mary Louise VanDyke, 10 October 1990, DNAH Archives. Photo enclosed.
John J. Overholt