Henry Edwin Meyer, educator and composer, was born in Jeffersonville, New York, on July 23, 1890. He was the son of Henry August and Eliza (Weber) Meyer. He attended Ithaca Conservatory and received his teaching diploma in 1910 and artist diploma in 1914. He married Rodney Leal Carl on September 23, 1914. They had four children. From 1918 to 1920 he served as head of the music department at Howard Payne College (now Howard Payne University) in Brownwood, Texas. He then served as music dean at Daniel Baker College in Brownwood from 1920 to 1924.
In 1926 Meyer joined the music faculty at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, as a professor of piano, organ, and sacred music. He played a highly significant role in that university’s development of its music programs. Meyer held the first Church Music Conference at Southwestern in 1929, and that gathering became a model for other church music conferences at colleges across the country. He also organized the Southwestern University Choir, consisting of approximately forty men and women. In 1942 he became the dean of the School of Fine Arts and would remain in that position along with his professional duties until his retirement.
Meyer was also a composer and was nationally-recognized in the field of church music. He wrote some twenty-five piano and organ pieces, a number of hymns and anthems, a sonatina for piano and violin, and numerous sacred songs. He worked out approximately 300 arrangements of folk hymns and White spirituals and had a lifelong hobby of collecting old hymnals and other rare songbooks.
As a respected leader in his field, Meyer was a featured speaker at numerous educational and professional conferences. He spoke for the National Association of Music Teachers in Washington, D.C., the Texas Federation of Music Clubs, Texas Music Teachers Association, and many music clubs throughout Texas. He also performed as organist at hymnic and choral festivals and as director at state choir festivals.
Meyer served as president of the Texas Music Teachers Association from 1926 to 1928, and he was president of the Texas Association of Music Schools from 1947 to 1948. He was also a member of the American Musicological Society, American Guild of Organists, Texas Composers Guild, Sigma Tau Delta, Texas Federation of Music Clubs, National Federation of Music Clubs, and many others. Additionally, he was a longtime columnist for the Texas Music Educators Association’s Southwestern Musician magazine.
Meyer retired in 1961 but continued to give private piano lessons and remained active in civic affairs and as a member of the First United Methodist Church. He donated his collection of hymnals and other rare books to the Cody Memorial Library at Southwestern University. Dean Henry Meyer collapsed on the campus of Southwestern University and died on December 20, 1976. It was thought that he was en route to the annual faculty Christmas party. He was preceded in death by his wife of almost sixty-two years; she had died earlier in the year. Meyer was buried in I.O.O.F. Cemetery.