Born in Massachusetts, Holyoke descended from two prominent New England families: the Holyokes and the Peabodys. His songs were first published in The Massachusetts Magazine while he was a student at Harvard College. Holyoke was a key contributor the the monumental publication The Massachusetts Compiler of Theoretical and Practical Elements of Sacred Vocal Music of 1795, considered the first music theory book printed in America.
One of Holyoke’s most important contribution to song in America was the publication of The Columbian Repository of Sacred Harmony of 1803. He also taught at various singing schools in New England and published two collections of instrumental music. However, Holyoke lacked formal training, and, despite his attempts to make music his primary profession, he died in poverty.
Source: New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians
Christmas in Early America
(Benjamin Carr and Samuel Holyoke)
Music of the Federal Era
(Benjamin Carr, Samuel Holyoke and Philip Phile)