Compiled by Marion Clark, December 2011
Editorial assistance by Timothy Hui and Paul S. Jones

Samuel Hsu was born into John and Dorothy Hsu’s Christian home in Shanghai, China, on June 20, 1947. The Chinese name they gave him meant “One who builds up the Light.” They added the biblical name Samuel, because they intended for their children, beginning with Sam, to serve the Lord Jesus Christ with their lives. All three sons would carry on the faith and end up serving at Philadelphia Biblical University. Samuel is survived by his brother Timothy K. Hui and his wife Helen of Churchville and his brother Andrew Hui of Penndel. He is also survived by his nephews: Jonathan and his wife Kimberly, Jason, David, and Anthony Hui.

A glimpse of Sam’s musical talent was revealed when he started to play with a toy piano that his aunt gave him when he was four. At the age of nine, he was selected to become a member of the first class of the Shanghai National Conservatory of Music. As a teenager, he appeared as soloist with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, playing Grieg’s piano concerto.

Sam began his life-long relationship with Philadelphia College of Bible (now Philadelphia Biblical University) in 1965, graduating in 1969. He went on to graduate studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, earning a Ph.D. in historical musicology in 1972. He also studied piano at the Juilliard School with Rosina Lhévinne and Martin Canin; he continued to study with Mr. Canin until [the week before he died]. Sam then returned to PBU as a music professor in 1972. His long tenure (39 years) included the honor of being the first faculty member to obtain the rank of Distinguished Professor.

Sam masterfully combined his teaching and performing talents. He presented lecture-recitals (U. of Pittsburgh and St. Joseph’s) and appeared as soloist with Princeton Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mark Laycock. He collaborated in performances with flutist Margaret Claudin, cellist Ron Lipscomb, Metropolitan Opera basso Jerome Hines, saxophonist Marshall Taylor, and with pianists Ron Matthews and Paul Jones, among many others. As visiting scholar at the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the U. of Pennsylvania, Sam joined Marshall Taylor and dance scholar Marion Kant in developing a series of programs of works by composers displaced by the Nazi Third Reich. In 2007 Xiao-Fu Zhou and Sam presented a homecoming recital at the Shanghai Conservatory. Since 1972 he also taught piano at the Csehy Summer School of Music, serving as the chair of the piano department. Debussy and Chopin were two major musical influences on Sam from his earliest years. He co-edited a book of memoirs on Debussy with Mark Peters and Sid Grolnic, and last year presented a series of all-Chopin piano recitals.

Former student Kile Smith wrote of his mentor:
“Sam was the most ‘in’ the world and least ‘of’ the world of anyone I know. That quality rendered him exotic in evangelical Christian circles—this concert pianist, this Philadelphia Orchestra lecturer, this colleague of world-famous scholars. I suspect it also made him exotic everywhere else—this Bible-study leader, this Presbyterian elder, this Christian summer music camp teacher.”

As great as his accomplishments were, Sam Hsu will be missed for the character he embodied and the love he gave. Sam was respected foremost for his humble faith in his Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. His speech upon receiving the Distinguished Professor title summed up that faith: “I am a sinner saved by grace. To God be the glory.” Sam served 20 years as an elder of Tenth Presbyterian Church. An elder is a shepherd, an overseer over the flock of God. Sam was a good shepherd to the people of Tenth, especially in his parish. But he was also a shepherd to his students, to his colleagues, and to his friends. Untold would be the number of stories from individuals encouraged by his prayers, by his kind words, by his wise counsel, by his cheerful countenance, by his gentle spirit. All of these traits and deeds rose out of his ardent desire to glorify his Lord. It makes sense that Sam would post on his apartment door the following lines from the hymn, “Lord, with Glowing Heart I’d Praise Thee”:

Let Thy love, my soul’s chief treasure, love’s pure flame within me raise; And, since words can never measure, let my life show forth Thy praise.

Sam once gave the charge to a minister being installed at Tenth. He would have been too humble to acknowledge that the charge he gave was one he already embodied, but all who knew him will attest that he was merely presenting what he himself kept.

"You are a man of God, set apart for the gospel. Pay careful attention to yourself and to all the flock in which the Holy Spirit has made you an overseer. As you shepherd the flock, keep your heart tender toward us. As you care for our souls, remember the tender examples of our Good Shepherd. As Jesus washed his disciples’ feet in the Upper Room, may you likewise serve us with loving humility. As Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus, may you have compassion for our griefs and sorrows. As Jesus gave his special blessing at the wedding feast of Cana, may you delight to share our joys. May your heart be filled with the love of Jesus as you pray for us, as you counsel us, as you teach us from God’s Word."

Such was the heart of our teacher, our shepherd, our friend, our brother.
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