Ruth Ann Chen Davis
Ruth Ann Davis, a multi-talented musician, has enjoyed a career primarily as an organist, pianist, and composer. She has served as a church musician in Seventh-day Adventist and other churches wherever she has resided and written a number of Scripture-related musical works, including a cantata.
Ruth was born in Massachusetts and spent her childhood in South Lancaster, one of six children and the younger of two daughters of Philip S. and Helen Feng Chen. Both parents had been born in China and had met and married while attending Michigan State College, now University. At the time of Ruth's birth, her father was in his third year of teaching chemistry at Atlantic Union College, a position he would retain until his retirement.
Music was an important activity in the Chen home, both parents being amateur singers and all of the children joining in the singing and having opportunities for music study in keyboard and other areas. Ruth started piano lessons at age seven and studied with Win Osborn Shankel and then, starting at age ten, with her daughter, Virginia-Gene Shankel Rittenhouse, whom she recalls as the most inspiring teacher in her early keyboard study. She also took lessons on violin and brass instruments.
When the Rittenhouses left the area, Ruth's father drove her to Boston to study with an acclaimed piano teacher. This arrangement continued until Melvin West came to teach at AUC, at which time she began taking lessons from him on organ during her junior year at nearby South Lancaster Academy. Study with West continued through the remainder of her academy years and after her enrollment as a music major at the college in 1957.
When West left AUC in 1959 to be chair of the music program at Walla Walla College, now University, she transferred to WWC in order to continue organ study with him. She completed a B.A, in music there in 1961. She had also satisfied pre-medicine requirements and was accepted into medical school during her senior year.
She decided to enroll instead at Boston University for graduate study in music and completed a master's degree in organ performance in 1962. She married Ray P. Seet that summer and they moved to Loma Linda, California, where he enrolled in medical school and she played the organ at various churches and supported them by teaching briefly in a classroom, working as a secretary, and teaching piano lessons.
In 1964 they had a daughter, the first of two they would have in addition to two others they would adopt. Following Ray's graduation in 1966, they went to Kettering Medical Center in Ohio for a year and then lived briefly in Kentucky, Arizona, and New Mexico while he completed residencies. While living in Kentucky, Ruth began to write Scripture songs and would continue to do so in subsequent years, this becoming her primary musical activity.
Following a divorce, she married Timothy P. Davis in 1978. He had a son by a prior marriage, and they later had a son together. After they married, he completed training as an RN and began to work as a nurse, his first position being at Wildwood Sanitarium and Hospital in Wildwood, Georgia. Following four years there, they lived in Chunky, Mississippi, where he worked at the Pine Forest Nursing home as Director of Nursing.
In 1988, the Davises returned to California, where he worked at the Feather River Hospital in Paradise until his retirement twenty years later. During that time she worked as a colporteur and with Golden Feather Ministries, a non-profit organization that in its operation performed a number of activities including the training of and support for colporteurs and the establishing of an area radio station. Shortly after his retirement their home was destroyed in a fire. With the proceeds from the sale of the land, they resettled in North Port, Washington, in 2009, where they now reside.
In the years since she had started writing music while living in Kentucky, Ruth continued to write Scripture-based songs. In 2001, she completed and recorded a cantata, We Beheld His Glory, a large-scale work with both music and narration. It is a culmination of her musical efforts and a testament to her beliefs and spiritual journey.
Sources: Interview with Ruth Chen Davis, 27 March 2012; Listing of copyright applications by Davis for several works; Online transcript of an Interview with Dr. Philip Chen (brother) by Dr. Buhm Soon Park, 15 February 2001; WWC Westwind, Summer 2001; Ancestory.com divorces and marriages; personal knowledge.
Music by Ruth Ann Chen Davis
We Beheld His Glory (2001)
The following songs are included in the cantata. A set of two CDs is available, as well as comb-bound printed music.
Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2-17)
The Fear of the Lord (Job 28:28)
Thy Word Have I Hid (Psalm 119:9, 11)
Delight Thyself Also in the Lord (Psalm 37:4-6)
My Son, Forget Not My Law (Proverbs. 3:1-4)
Blessed are the Undefiled (Psalm 119:1-3)
Fear Thou Not (Isaiah. 41:10, 17, 18; Isaiah. 42:16; Is. 40:30, 31)
I Have Rejoiced (Psalm 119:14-16)
Though the Fig Tree May Not Blossom (Habakkuk 3:17-19)
Alleluia (Revelation 19:1)
Behold, I Tell you a Mystery (1 Corinthians 15:51-57)