Irving Arthur Steinel

1884 - 1945

Irving Steinel was a pioneer in early Seventh-day Adventist education in the opening years of the 20th century. He and his wife, Helen, started the first school in the Philippines, forerunner of today’s Adventist University of the Philippines.

Irving was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 6, 1884, the son of John and Johanna Vogel Steinel, both immigrants from Germany. A pianist and organist, he was one of the first graduates from the collegiate course at Washington Missionary College, now Washington Adventist University, in 1915. While at WMC, he had married Helen Morse, a singer, on January4, 1913.

After he served as principal at South Lancaster Academy for a year, the Steinels moved to the Philippines, where he was in charge of starting and developing the educational work. He and three other Americans started Philippine Seventh-day Adventist Academy, now Adventist University of the Philippines, in 1917.

After six successful years in the Philippines, they returned to the States in 1922 and resided at Emmanuel Missionary College, now Andrews University. He studied with Birt Summers, chair of the music department, who taught keyboard and was also known for his work as a composer. While it is not clear what his status was at EMC, Steinel appears to have taught and was a pianist in the school orchestra and a member of the EMC string trio. He composed the college's school song.

Steinel was also a contributor to a work published by EMC in 1924 titled Our Academies: Their Purpose, Organization and Administration and Curriculum, which was compiled and edited by Harry Elmo Edwards. Steinel wrote on the "Historical Development of SDA Secondary Education."

The Steinels participated as musicians in annual meetings of the General Conference beginning in 1922, he serving as official pianist and she as soloist. They were also participants in the 1941 General Conference Session, the largest meeting of its type to that time.

They worked at the Glendale Hospital in California after leaving EMC in the mid-1920s. He assisted H.M.S. Richards in his tent efforts and initial work in radio evangelism and in the 1930s served as organist in Richards' first Voice of Prophecy radio programs. They taught music in their Glendale home for twenty years, until his death on December 20, 1945.

Steinel composed several songs and anthems, many being written at night while he was sitting up in bed. He wrote tunes for two hymns, I Give My Heart to Thee, O Father, and Welcome, Sweet Day of Repose, in the 1941 Adventist Church Hymnal. The latter, written in 1939, was retained in the 1985 Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal as hymn #380.

After Irving's death, Helen taught music at Hawaiian Mission Academy in Honolulu and at Monterey Bay Academy in California. She married Milton M. Hare in 1955. He died on April 6, 1958, at age 73, and she died in San Jose, California, twenty-one years later, on August 7, 1976, at age 89.


Sources: Wayne H. Hooper and Edward E. White, Companion to the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal, 1988, Review and Herald Publishing Association, 390; The Philippine Adventist University website; the 1923 Cardinal, EMC yearbook; Review and Herald, 17 June 1915, 31 August 1916, 19 October 1916, 12 June 1922, 30 May 1930, 4 June 1936, 10 June 1941; Pacific Union Recorder, 16 September 1976. Irving Arthur Steinel, California Biographical Index Cards, 1781-1990, and 1910 U.S. Federal Census Records,; Ethel Young, “The Gateway to Service,” The Ministry, August 1961, pg. 14; Helen Morse, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Marriage Records and Indexes, 1810-1973; Although it has been claimed that he served as principal at So. Lancaster Academy, Myron F. Wehtje’s detailed history of AUC, And There Was Light, Atlantic Press, South Lancaster, MA, 1982, pg. 193, 194, states that William G. Wirth was principal that year; “75-50-25 Years Ago,” 1921, Review and Herald, 1921, November 28, 1946, pg. 2; Review and Herald, April 28, 1921, pg. 18. The December 1-15 Asiatic Division Outlook, pg. 6 refers to the work done by Helen; Helen Morse Steinel Hare obituary, Review and Herald, September 16, 1976, pg. 23.