Sunday, October 29, 2023

William James Kirkpatrick (1838-1921)

From Hall, page 154
William James Kirkpatrick (1838-1921) was one of the most important composers of gospel songs in the history of the genre. Just how important can be seen first in his prodigious number of songs. From a download of individual song data listed in, some 97,000 songs in all, I consolidate the various names under which a composer might be identified (William J. Kirkpatrick, Wm. J. Kirkpatrick, W. J. Kirkpatrick, etc.) and ranked the top composers by number of songs. The results are available here. To be sure, this is an imperfect measure, because it is unknown how representative the sample is; but to my knowledge it is the largest data set available. William J. Kirkpatrick had 1,412 tune credits, second only to Charles H. Gabriel at an amazing 2,333. Kirkpatrick's output was more than the Biglow & Main team of W. H. Doane (570) and Robert Lowry (465) put together; it was twice as many as all the songs the Fillmores of Cincinnati wrote put together; and if we consider Kirkpatrick and his longtime editorial partner John R. Sweney as a songwriting team, they dominate the list with a combined 2,614 tunes. This makes it all the more puzzling to me that there has been so little serious study of Kirkpatrick's career. 

Hymnologist Mel Wilhoit has said, "The scope, length, and influence of his life and work demand a strong consideration of William J. Kirkpatrick as one of the major figures in the gospel song movement of the late nineteenth century" (175). It appears there is still a dissertation topic here for the taking! For this essay, I will start from J. H. Hall's Biography of Gospel Song and Hymn Writers as a major contemporary source of Kirkpatrick's biography, adding details and corrections as I am able. This of course is much the same ground explored by Wilhoit in the Kirkpatrick chapter from his 1982 dissertation, A Guide to the Principal Authors and Composers of Gospel Song of the Nineteenth Century, but I hope to expand on Dr. Wilhoit's work using the online resources unavailable to him at that time.

From Northern Ireland to Philadelphia

"Errigle looking to the North" by Kenneth Allen
used under license: CC BY-SA 2.0
Hall is silent on the subject of Kirkpatrick's birthplace, beginning with the subject's leaving his home in Duncannon, Perry County, Pennsylvania (155). In fact, William James Kirkpatrick was born in 1838 in the parish of Errigal Keerogue, County Tyrone, in Northern Ireland (Kirkpatrick, William James, family tree). One "William Kirkpatrick" was present in Errigal Keerogue as early as 1631 (Ingram 91), so the family had likely come over from the Scottish Lowlands during the early "plantation" of Ulster with Protestants by King James. The Kirkpatricks were members of the Church of Ireland (Ingram 171, 309) and Loyalists in politics; William's great-grandfather Francis wrote a fiery tract in 1804 titled Loyalty and the Times, dedicated to his brothers in the Orange Order (Powell). In later and (relatively) quieter days, Thompson Kirkpatrick, William's father, was the first regular schoolmaster of the Errigoal Keerogue parish, which meager salary he supplemented with farming (Ingram 309). 

The Thompson Kirkpatrick family came to the U.S. in August of 1840, but it is unclear whether William was with them; he is not listed as traveling with the family (Passenger manifest, William & James). Second-hand information--from his wife's passport application in 1921--says that he did emigrate in 1840 along with his family (Kirkpatrick, Lizzie E. Sweney, Application for passport), but he is missing in the 1850 census of the Thompson Kirkpatrick household in Petersburg (later renamed Duncannon), Pennsylvania (Kirkpatrick, Thompson, U.S. Census, 1850). I have been unable to find out more; among his biographers, George C. Stebbins says that he "came to Pennsylvania at an early age" (289), and Hall says that he left the family home at Duncannon, Pennsylvania in 1854 (155). The claim that William J. Kirkpatrick was actually born in Duncannon, repeated in a number of Internet resources, does not bear up under examination. His birthplace is identified as "Ireland" in the U.S. Censuses for 1860, 1880, 1900, 1910, and 1920; only in 1870 is his birthplace given as "Pennsylvania," one of those anomalies of census data that could result from clerical error or even a census taker being given inaccurate information from a second-hand source (Kirkpatrick, William James, family tree).

From 1854 on Hall's information is more detailed. The 16-year-old Kirkpatrick moved to Philadelphia that year to apprentice as a carpenter (Hall 155, cf. Gabriel 39). By 1861, aged 23, he was listed in the city directory as a carpenter (McElroy's 1861 531); the 1867 directory said more specifically that he was a cabinetmaker (McElroy's 1867 500). But according to Hall he was soon also working with the choir and in the Sunday School program of the Wharton Street Methodist Episcopal Church (155). His musical training had no doubt begun under his father, who taught music as well as general subjects (Corbit 2:392). In Philadelphia, Kirkpatrick had the advantage of a broad range of musical opportunities. Hall states that he studied vocal music with "Prof. T. Bishop" (156)--surely the Thomas Bishop who was music teacher for the Philadelphia Normal School (Annual Report 39 (1858):25), and who sang a leading role in an 1852 production of Donizetti's La fille du régiment (Scharf and Westcott 2:1083). 

By Beyond My Ken - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
Philadelphia Academy of Music, built in 1857
Kirkpatrick was also involved with musical societies such as the Harmonia Society and the Handel and Haydn Society (Hall 156), which tended to use amateurs alongside professional musicians as a necessity. Especially important among these contacts was the conductor Leopold Meignen, with whom Kirkpatrick studied music theory and composition (Hall 157). Meignen, a Frenchman whose musical experience began as a bandsman in Napoleon's army, was an excellent teacher whose students included such later luminaries as Septimus Winner. Another student, William Henry Fry, stated that "until Mr. Meignen came here, there was no such regular instruction in counterpoint" (Swenson-Eldridge 151ff.). Kirkpatrick also studied organ with David D. Wood, organist at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church (Hall 157). Wood was one of the earliest American proponents of the works of J. S. Bach (whose music was just becoming widely known again after decades of relative obscurity), and was one of the founders of the American Guild of Organists (Osborne). All of this shows that despite Kirkpatrick's lack of a formal academic education in music, he was as well instructed (or better) as many of his peers in the gospel music field.

First Steps in Gospel Music

Hall says that Kirkpatrick associated with the Wharton Street Methodist Church from the time of his move to Philadelphia in 1855, where he assisted in some capacity with the choir and Sunday School programs (155). It was here that he met Abraham S. Jenks, one of the Sunday School teachers, who put Kirkpatrick to work leading the singing for his class of young ladies (Metcalf 333). Jenks was a prominent businessman, member of the Board of Education, and dedicated philanthropist (Jenks marriage notice; Jenks obituary). Among his other interests, Jenks dabbled in publishing supplementary songbooks for Sunday Schools and prayer meetings, and caught on to the idea of singing religious texts to popular tunes. His first effort was a words-only volume titled The Chorus, or, A Collection of Choruses and Hymns (Philadelphia: A. S. Jenks, 1858). As he began gathering material for a second book, this time with musical notation instead of just suggested tunes, Jenks encountered the 20-year-old Kirkpatrick and was impressed with his ability, not only to write down a tune by ear, but also to provide it with a four-part harmonization on the spot (Hall 156). Jenks's Devotional Melodies appeared in 1859, with a prominent acknowledgment "to Mr. W. J. Kirkpatrick, for the simple and appropriate arrangement of a large number of the musical compositions found in the work" (Publisher's notice). In fact Kirkpatrick's arrangements, together with his eleven original contributions, make up 86 of the 192 tunes in the book; George Stebbins called this Kirkpatrick's "first collection of songs" (290), suggesting that he was integrally involved in the work as a whole. Some of it is unusual--for example, the recasting of Stephen Foster melodies such as "Gentle Annie" as gospel songs--but Kirkpatrick carries it off well. 

91st PA Volunteers regimental band in 1861. The 4th rank has drums on the 
near end, bass horns on the far end; the man at the far end of the 1st rank
might be William J. Kirkpatrick. NY Metropolitan Museum of Art.

According to the information recorded in Lizzie Kirkpatrick's passport application, previously mentioned, William Kirkpatrick did not become a U.S. citizen until October of 1860. One can only wonder if this decision was influenced by the looming conflict surrounding the November election, but by December it was certainly clear which side Kirkpatrick was on. At the outbreak of the Civil War Kirkpatrick enlisted in the 91st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, U.S., and was assigned to the field & staff company as fife major ("Kirkpatrick, William J.", Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System). He mustered in 4 December 1861, but was "mustered out of service by order of War Dept." ("Muster-Out Roll"), probably in the summer of 1862. The older tradition of the fife and drum corps was giving way to the modern military band, but there was also an economic reason to let him go: the true scale and length of the war had become more apparent to the nation's leaders. In July 1862 the Army issued General Order No. 91, which among other measures cut the number of bands from one per regiment to one per brigade (Manjerovic and Budds). According to George Stebbins, Kirkpatrick spent the remainder of the war in the Philadelphia shipyards (290); the Pennsylvania state census of 1863 supports this, listing him as a carpenter in Philadelphia. With the Navy's rapid buildup underway, his skills made him more valuable at home.

On Christmas Eve of 1861, the recently enlisted Kirkpatrick had married Susannah J. Doak, a member of the Wharton Street congregation whose father was a well known preacher ("Memorial Notice"). (Did they meet in A. S. Jenks's Bible class as teenagers?) They were blessed with three children, George (1862), Martha (1864), and Mary (1868) (Kirkpatrick, In the years immediately following the Civil War, Kirkpatrick took a position in a furniture factory (Hall 158) where he remained for about ten years (Gabriel 39ff.). But his heart was in church music, and he also received an appointment as organist and music director at Ebenezer Methodist Episcopal Church in 1865, where he continued to serve off and on through the early 1880s (Hall 157). Later he would also direct the music program at Grace Methodist Episcopal Church (Stebbins 289). 

Kirkpatrick's songwriting was still somewhat sporadic during this period. He assisted A. S. Jenks in another collection in 1865, Heart and Voice (Philadelphia: Perkinpine & Higgins), a pioneering work coordinated with the Methodist hymnal and but with words and music on the same page (Stebbins 290). Of the 400-plus tunes, all but a few dozen are in the old-fashioned open score, with the melody in the "tenor" voice and a "treble" part on top. Kirkpatrick's contributions make up about one-eighth of the work, primarily consisting of sturdy, workable tunes for the traditional metric hymns. Only a few toward the back of the book are in a more modern style. Other than this work, Kirkpatrick does not appear to have contributed songs in great numbers to any collections until the mid-1870s. 

Making Connections: Kirkpatrick Meets Sweney

John R. Sweney
Kirkpatrick's rise to the top tier of gospel songwriters was by no means assured at this point, but as is so often the case in life, acquaintance with the right people and opportunity for his skills to be noticed opened the necessary doors. The first of these circumstances was met through his acquaintance with John R. Sweney (1837-1899). The two had a lot in common--both had directed regimental bands at the start of the Civil War before being mustered out (Sweney was in the 3rd Delaware Infantry), and  both had a strong interest in church music, especially Sunday School music. When Sweney came to teach at the Pennsylvania Military Academy, and began leading music at various churches in Philadelphia, it was inevitable that they would meet (Hall 150ff.). Interestingly, though Sweney affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (Hall 151), his earliest songbooks--the Gems of Praise series--were published by the Methodist press in Philadelphia. In 1875 Sweney issued Goodly Pearls for the Sunday School, the first of many published with John J. Hood of Philadelphia. W. J. Kirkpatrick contributed a dozen songs, a precursor to a partnership that would eventually be rivaled only by such giants as Biglow & Main in New York City.

Gospel songwriter Edmund S. Lorenz (1854-1942), in his interesting survey of the history of gospel song in Church Music: What a Minister Should Know about It, notes that Sweney and Kirkpatrick represented "the more devout side of the 'spiritual' among the Methodists" (335). Certainly this was also reflected in their association with parachurch organizations such as Sunday School conventions and especially the "grove meetings," yearly encampments at natural beauty spots that might be described as the "glamping" version of the frontier camp-meeting. The most important of these in the Philadelphia area was the Ocean Grove encampment on the Jersey shore, founded in 1869 (Woodard 68). (A few years later a similar institution was founded at Lake Chautauqua in New York, and "chautauqua" would become another generic term for this blend of religious devotion, adult education, and recreation.) 

In 1873 John Sweney was invited to lead the singing at Ocean Grove, with such success that in advertisements for future sessions the main songleader was promoted alongside the featured speakers. Naturally Sweney brought along his new Gems of Praise songbook,  and the production of small collections of new music became part of the yearly tradition at these events (Woodard 72). Kirkpatrick published similar collections in 1875-1876 titled Leaflet Gems nos. 1 and 2, published by Eli Mansfield Bruce (1825-1898) of Philadelphia. Bruce was primarily occupied with the sale of Estey organs (Bruce, Findagrave), but like many music store proprietors of the time he also did some publishing on the side. Bruce was engaged in 1875 to lead singing for the sunrise services at Ocean Grove, and used this platform to promote Kirkpatrick's new collection (Woodard 74). An advertisement from the Ocean Grove Record in the summer of 1875 shows the networking that was going on during these otherwise quiet years in Kirkpatrick's career:
Music books continue to fall from the press like leaves in autumn, and are eagerly bought up, sung through, and what they contain  of real value receives the stamp of approbation and immortality. Leaflet Gems, published by E. M. Bruce & Co., a ten cent volume, gives us over fifty pieces, mostly the production of that excellent composer, W. J. Kirkpatrick, whose tunes are among the best adapted to the active religious operations of these active times. It may be ordered from 1308 Chestnut street or at Ocean Grove. Goodly Pearls has also been issued in an enlarged form by John J. Hood, who has been assisted in its getting up by Prof. J. R. Sweney. Many very choice and popular pieces will be found in its pages (Review of new music 31 July 1875).
Fanny Crosby visited Ocean Grove as well, and attested to the circle of influence being formed in gospel music:
How can I fittingly describe my impressions of Ocean Grove? The first evening that I was there was clear and calm ; and as we silently rowed across Wesley Lake some music from the camp-grounds was wafted to us with a delightful cadence. Among the lasting friendships formed at Ocean Grove were those of John R. Sweney and William J. Kirkpatrick (Crosby 139).
A Combination of Crises and a New Direction

But just as acquaintance and opportunity often lead to a turn in one's path in life, so also do tragedy and hardship. Kirkpatrick's wife Susannah died 29 May 1878, at the age of 37, from peritonitis following "Battey's normal ovariotomy" (Susannah Kirkpatrick, death certificate). At the time, Dr. Robert Battey's procedure was viewed by some as a cure-all for menstrual problems (and even for mental illness!) though medical opinion soon turned against it because of the high risk involved and poor evidence for its effectiveness ("Robert Battey"). It is somewhat unusual that William and Susannah had no more children after Mary, born in 1868 when Susannah was just 27; this may indicate some extended illness for which Battey's operation was used a last resort.

William Kirkpatrick was now a single father at the age of 40 with three children: George (aged 15), Martha (aged 13), and Mary (aged 9). A month later, the furniture company for which he had worked went out of business (Hall 158). (If anyone with access to archives in Philadelphia will pursue this, I suspect it may have been Swan, Clark & Co.. who appear in the 1876 Gopsill's Philadelphia Business Directory but not in the 1879 edition. They were on the losing side of an 1878 case seeking the recovery of ore than $300,000 in today's dollars.) Though Kirkpatrick would certainly land on his feet, these sudden blows at midlife seem to have prompted him to consider a new direction. According to Hall he spent the summer traveling, and by the fall had decided to work full-time in church music (158).

The Philadelphia Triumvirate of Gospel Music: Kirkpatrick, Sweney, and Hood

John J. Hood (1845-1922) was an immigrant from Glasgow who came to Philadelphia about 1868, establishing a music business in the 1870s that he directed until his death (Hood, obituary). 
Gopsill's directory for 1876 shows that he had a music store at 608 Arch Street (273), and Goodly Pearls, apparently his first book with Sweney, was published at that address as early as 1875 (front cover). For a time, however, he was also working in the music typography firm of John H. Armstrong, or at least depended on the use of his equipment for the actual printing (Goodly Pearls 160). This relationship came to an abrupt end in the same fateful year of 1878 with the murder of Armstrong by a business associate. Hood was in fact called to testify as to the time that Armstrong left the printing office on the evening he was killed ("Benjamin Hunter's trial"). 

From The Royal Fountain no. 3
Hood, Sweney, and Kirkpatrick were at a crossroads together, and joining their forces began a series of publications that appeared at an impressive rate--nearly 50 titles from 1880 to 1895. (I have found 48 in OCLC WorldCat and; Hall says there were 49 from 1880-1897 (158), and Stebbins says there were 50 in the same period (290)). For comparison, I found only 40 unique titles in the WorldCat database published by Hood during this period that did not feature both Sweney and Kirkpatrick as editors; seven of these were edited by Sweney with a variety of different editors, and another handful were collections of songs "as used in the evangelistic services of" a well-known preacher, who was credited as the compiler. Hood also published a few collections edited by other well-known gospel songwriters such as Charles Gabriel, Edwin O. Excell, and others. My analysis of this body of work is based on information I gathered and documented in the spreadsheet Sweney and Kirkpatrick songbooks published by Hood.

Sweney, Kirkpatrick, and Hood published between one and five books per year from 1880-1896 (not counting their individual publications or works co-edited with others), averaging 2.75 books per year with a mode of 3 books per year. Years with three or more books published were often followed and/or preceded by years with just one or two, suggesting that books were delayed or completed early and bled over into an adjacent year. Some publications, such as The Trio (1882) and The Quartet (1884), were compilations of earlier books and did not require much editorial work; additionally, there are a few special occasion titles in the list, such as Over the fields: a service for Children's Day (1894) that were much smaller efforts.

Using copyright records and newspaper announcements, I have identified the month and year the works were published in order to determine which books borrowed from each other. This also gives an interesting insight into the publication schedule; publication was most frequent in July and December (6 books each) and least frequent in October and November (1 book each). Of the four quarters of the church year, December-February was the busiest (15 books), followed by slightly fewer publications in March-May (12 books), a busy summer in June-August (14 books), and a much slower September-November (4 books). The concentration of publications in the spring and summer (19 books were published in April-July, the highest 4-month span) probably reflects the demand for new books at Ocean Grove and other summer “grove meetings.”

In order to probe deeper into the contents of these books, I have analyzed 29 of these books that are indexed at These books contain 4,833 songs altogether, with 3,037 unique titles. The books range in size from 83 to 240 songs, with an average and median of 167. In evaluating the percentage of songs repeated from previous volumes, I began with the third book in the series to account for the lack of data for earlier publications in the first two books. The average percentage of repeated songs was 39%, with a median of 33%. The lowest percentage was 6%, and the highest percentage was 87%. Generally speaking, a couple of publications with a higher percentage of repeated songs were followed by publications with a higher percentage of new songs. Some books with a high percentage of previously published songs are explained by special circumstances; the contents of Precious Hymns for Times of Refreshing and Revival (80% repeats), for example, were selected by the revivalist Thomas Harrison, and Temple Songs: Seaside Edition (85% repeats) was a reissue of an 1888 publication.
From The Royal Fountain no. 3

Of the lyricists represented, Fanny Crosby leads the way with 919 instances of her songs, followed by Eliza Hewitt at 577. No one else is close–Priscilla J. Owens, with 88 song instances, is tied in third place with Charles Wesley. It is noteworthy, though not that surprising if one is familiar with the repertoire, that the top three lyricists are women. In assessing the relative importance of different lyricists, it is critical to note that Fanny Crosby’s songs appeared in every one of these publications from beginning to end, whereas Eliza Hewitt’s songs appeared first in 1887. A comparison of the two beginning at the time Hewitt’s songs first began to appear shows that they were nearly tied, with Crosby at 596 song instances to Hewitt's 577. Of the seventeen publications in the series from 1887 and later, Hewitt’s songs in fact made up the highest percentage of work by a single lyricist on seven occasions, and Hewitt and Crosby were tied in another. Though the total number of songs contributed by Crosby slightly increased across the entire span from 1880 to 1896, her percentage of the total in each book dropped significantly as the books became larger and as Hewitt’s contributions dramatically increased.

Among the composers, John R. Sweney just barely edges out William J. Kirkpatrick, 1,230 tune instances to 1,220. Between them they wrote just over 50% of the music in the 29 songbooks analyzed. In third place, by comparison, is H. L. Gilmour with 225 tune instances. (Gilmour would take an increasing role in editorship at John J. Hood during the 1890s.) The co-editors seem to have shared the load of songwriting equally throughout this series of publications, with no significant difference over time. Of the 1,220 instances of Kirkpatrick compositions, 290 were for Fanny Crosby lyrics and 276 were for Eliza Hewitt lyrics. In third place was Priscilla Owens with 72 instances of lyrics set to music by Kirkpatrick. Hewitt’s numbers here are remarkable considering that she was not contributing to these books until 1887, appearing in only 17 out of the 29 books analyzed, and still nearly tied Crosby among Kirkpatrick’s settings. Kirkpatrick’s number of settings of Crosby lyrics did not change dramatically over the course of these publications, but his settings of Hewitt lyrics skyrocketed. Of the 17 songbooks from 1887 on, settings of Hewitt lyrics outpace those of Crosby in all but four. In five of these songbooks Kirkpatrick set more than twice as many lyrics by Hewitt as by Crosby. 

Part of this was no doubt the increasing demand for material–this series of songbooks shows Kirkpatrick and Sweney were contributing an increasing percentage of the songs, and the books were getting longer. From 1880 through 1885, the average number of songs was 129, with a low of 84 and a high of 170. From 1886-1890, the average was 162, with a low of 83 and a high of 206. If the outlier Prohibition Melodist with only 83 songs is removed, the average is 173 with a low of 122. From 1891 through 1896, the average number of songs is 204, with a low of 125 and a high of 240. Again, if one outlier is removed (Dew Drops, with only 125 songs, closer to the average from a decade earlier), the average shifts to 212 songs with a low of 183. The increasing demand through the late 1880s and into the 1890s meant that even though Crosby’s songs were coming in at the same rate, the Hood company’s new muse Eliza Hewitt was supplying an even greater share of lyrics. Since Crosby was based in New York and was primarily associated with a rival publishing house, Biglow & Main, it was a significant coup to find a similarly prolific writer based in Philadelphia who would write primarily for John J. Hood publications.

The End of the Kirkpatrick-Sweney-Hood Era

What brought this dynamic era to an end? Patricia Woodard's intriguing study of the musical life of Ocean Grove notes that a rift had begun to show in the community over the role of gospel songs in the proceedings. Some had always objected to the "ditties" being used instead of the traditional hymns of the official Methodist hymnal (Woodard 74-75), and by the middle 1890s the increasingly modern and sophisticated sensibilities of the attendees had begun to look askance at the enthusiastic revival-style song-leading of Sweney (Woodard 76-77). In addition, the completion of the Great Auditorium in 1894 provided a major venue for much larger performances. When Walter Damrosch of the New York Symphony conducted Handel's Messiah with a 400-voice choir, the writing was on the wall (Woodard 76). In 1896 a new choral director, Tali Esen Morgan, shared the stage with Sweney, and Damrosch--now a fixture at the Great Auditorium--announced that Morgan would direct the Ocean Grove Chorus in upcoming performances of Messiah and Haydn's Creation (Woodard 77). The death of Ellwood Stokes in 1897, first president of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association and a perennial booster of gospel songs, probably also contributed to Sweney's retirement in 1898--"the end of an era" (Woodard 78).

The Great Auditorium at Ocean Grove, 1894

William J. Kirkpatrick had been through some major events in his personal life through the 1890s as well. In 1893 he married a New York widow, Sarah Kellogg Bourne, with the  wedding breakfast hosted by the bride's first cousin Phoebe Palmer Knapp, composer of "Blessed Assurance" (Sarah Lankford Kellogg family tree ; "Gotham by phone"). Though Fanny Crosby was not in attendance, it would not be surprising if William and Sarah met through her circle of acquaintance; "Kirkie" was a dear friend to Crosby (Crosby 138). Tragedy was not far behind, however; Kirkpatrick lost his younger daughter Mary to tuberculosis in April of 1895 (Mary D. Kirkpatrick death certificate). 1896 brought a happier event, the marriage of his remaining daughter Martha; but this too brought loss when the couple moved away to Maine (Kirkpatrick, Martha Lankford). By the time of Sweney's retirement in 1898 from activities at Ocean Grove, Kirkpatrick had also "retired from most of his public activities" according to Stebbins (290). The death of Sweney in 1899 was particularly hard of course, and J. H. Hall agrees that Kirkpatrick turned away from public appearances after this time and focused on editing and composition (159).

Editorial Work with Other Publishers

Even during the years he was editing for John J. Hood, Kirkpatrick also co-edited songbooks for other publishing houses, such as Songs of Joy and Gladness for McDonald & Gill of Boston (no. 1 in 1885, no. 2 in 1890), and Finest of the Wheat for R. R. McCabe of Chicago (no. 1 in 1887, no. 2 in 1894). In the post-John J. Hood era, Kirkpatrick actually increased in his editorial output slightly, with 59 new titles from 1897 to 1915. Initially these were for a variety of publishers, favoring in particular the new Hall-Mack Company. 

Triumphant Praises (1901)
Founded by J. Lincoln Hall and Irwin H. Mack, this Philadelphia-based company appears to have begun publishing sheet music as early as October 1894 (Catalog of Title Entries no. 173 page 14), though their first gospel songbook, Boundless Love, only appeared in 1896. They would become a major force in gospel music during the early 20th century, and were bought out in 1936 by Homer Rodeheaver, eventually becoming part of Word Music (McNeil "Rodeheaver" 322). Kirkpatrick's books edited for Hall-Mack all involved H. L. Gilmour, with whom he had worked for John J. Hood. Five of these eight books are indexed at, and an analysis of their contents shows that of 1,160 songs, Kirkpatrick wrote 226, more than the next three most-represented composers combined (J. Lincoln Hall with 84, H. L. Gilmour with 77, and C. Austin Miles with 63). Eliza Hewitt lyrics continued to predominate in Kirkpatrick's songs, making up a third of his contributions (73 lyrics), followed by Fanny Crosby at 31 lyrics. An interesting feature of Kirkpatrick's Hall-Mack books was the prominence of a younger generation of new songwriters, in particular Lelia N. Morris (Mrs. C. H. Morris), who contributed sixty songs. Unusually for the time, she wrote both words and music, and was thus the fourth-highest contributor of tunes to the books analyzed. Another young lyricist found in this series, Thomas O. Chisholm, had his first widely successful song, "O to be like Thee," with a William Kirkpatrick tune.

Another feature of Kirkpatrick's career after the partnership with Sweney was his involvement with songbooks developed for particular religious groups. These included Cheerful Praises (1900) and aa third number of The Young People's Hymnal (1906) for the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, where he filled the music editing role of the recently deceased Rigdon McIntosh, a southerner with strong publishing connections in the northeast. This work in Nashville probably led to Kirkpatrick's connection with T. B. Larimore, one of the most prominent preachers among the Churches of Christ in that era. Together they brought forth Seventy-Seven Sweet Songs (Nashville: McQuiddy, 1906) and The New Christian Hymn Book (Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1907). 

Praise Publishing: Kirkpatrick on His Own

By 1906 William Kirkpatrick had founded his own publishing house in Philadelphia, the Praise Publishing Company  (The Old Story in SongDirectory of Publishers 1908 xxxix). (I have not been able to substantiate McNeil's statement in his Encyclopedia of Gospel Music that Praise Publishing went back as far as 1878.) I have identified nine songbooks from Praise Publishing, dated from 1906 to 1914. Not surprisingly, H. L. Gilmour was involved in each, but other recurring names are Arthur S. Magann, who is named as compiler for two of the later collections, with Kirkpatrick and Gilmour as music editors; Melvin J. Hill; Charles H. Marsh, who appears as an additional music editor in two of the later volumes; and George W. Sanville, who was a manager and road representative ("Prof. Sanville"). An announcement in 1911 of the twentieth anniversary celebration of the Methodist church in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania advertises "a service of song and sermon; this will be conducted by Mr. G. W. Sanville in the new book, 'The Message in Song'" Interestingly, this article also teases that "it is expected that Prof. William J. Kirkpatrick, the famous hymn and music writer, will be present" ("Founding of Ridley Park"). By 1911, it seems, Kirkpatrick was letting others be the public face of the company.

Old Story in Song no. 2 (1908)
Four of the nine Praise Publishing songbooks are indexed in, and from this limited sample it is at least possible to observe that Kirkpatrick still supplied more music than any other one composer, 129 out of 849 total songs. In a clear second place, however, is Lelia N. Morris, who supplied 92 instances to these collections--more than twice as many as any of the remaining composers. She dominated among the lyricists as well, more than doubling Eliza Hewitt's contributions. Praise Publishing appears to have been a successful enterprise in its time, and certainly helped further the careers of some younger gospel songwriters. 

The last Praise Publishing book I have found appears in 1914, and it seems that once again tragedy punctuated a turn in Kirkpatrick's career: in March 1915 his second wife, Sarah, passed away (Kellogg, Sarah Lankford). Whatever the reason, when Kirkpatrick was ready to sell his business he had an eager buyer at hand--Homer Rodeheaver. The two men knew each other from Ocean Grove, and one can imagine that the older Kirkpatrick was reminded of his own youth by the dynamic young songwriter and songleader for Billy Sunday's evangelistic crusades. Rodeheaver was a keen businessman, and had already tried unsuccessfully to lure G. W. Sanville away from Kirkpatrick; but in 1917 he made an even better deal and bought Praise Publishing. By doing this Rodeheaver got Sanville to manage his Philadelphia interests, added the prestige of Kirkpatrick's legacy to his own ventures, and secured a considerable catalog of copyrights (Mungons 101). Though Kirkpatrick's songwriting career was far from over, he was now largely out of the editing business.

Kirkpatrick as a Composer

From Songs of Redeeming Love, 1882
Looking at Kirkpatrick's output as a composer, the years in partnership with Sweney and Hood comprised his era of greatest and most lasting success. Of his 1,641 tunes I have counted from, 1,158 first appeared from 1880 to 1896, but only 462 in the years from 1897 to 1921. He averaged around 68 tunes a year in the 1880-1896 period, exceeding this number in nine out of the seventeen years; afterward he exceeded it only once, in 1899, and averaged half as many songs per year until 1908, when running a business reduced his composing efforts even further. In terms of the quality of his tunes, the Hood-Kirkpatrick-Sweney era saw the introduction of nearly all of his best-known songs, such as "Jesus saves!," "Lord, I'm coming home," "'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus," "A wonderful Savior," "Will your anchor hold?," "Redeemed! How I love to proclaim it," "Stepping in the light," and "Meet me there," all of which have over 100 instances in Such lasting contributions were less frequent in the later period: "Lead me to Calvary," a posthumously published work, has 90 instances; and there was "Give me thy heart, says the Father above" (1898) with 65 instances, "O to be like Thee!" (1897) with 58 instances, and "Hallelujah! Praise Jehovah" (1899) with 42 instances. There is a problem in comparing the success of songs in the two eras, of course, when the former period brought out so many more songs overall. Granting that success in songwriting is a hit-and-miss business, if he wrote twice as many songs in one period of time as in another, it would be logical to expect that more of his "hits" would be from the first period. There is also the problem that as an editor of numerous songbooks he freely reused his own work, inflating the numbers of his instances recorded at 

I attempted two different approaches to find a more balanced view of his compositions. In the first, I added together all the instances of all Kirkpatrick's songs appearing in a year, divided by the number of songs appearing that year--a sort of average overall success rate for the year. The average number of instances for a song from the 1880-1896 years was a little over seven; the average for a song from the later years was a little over four. As could be expected, there were "banner years" such as 1882 ("Jesus saves!," "'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus," and "Redeemed! How I love to proclaim it"), for which the average was over 16 instances per song, but even avoiding such outliers, the data show clearly that Kirkpatrick's songs from the decade he was running Praise Publishing (1908-1917) averaged 2.5 instances in, with none higher than 6 and more than two-thirds of them at just 2 instances. Viewing Kirkpatrick's success from another perspective, however, I took Kirkpatrick's top 100 songs in terms of instances and narrowed the group to those songs that have been reprinted in a hymnal in the 21st century. Of these 29 songs, 21 are from the 1880-1896 period and 8 are from the later period, more or less proportional to the number of songs written overall during these eras. From this point of view, Kirkpatrick managed to write long-lasting, successful songs throughout his career, but simply had less opportunity in his later years. 

Kirkpatrick's songwriting may also reflect a larger trend in the gospel music business at the turn of the century, as noted by Fanny Crosby biographer Bernard Ruffin. He found that although Crosby remained an industry favorite, demand for her lyrics was not as great in the 1890s as in the 1880s (173). Ruffin also noted that by 1905 Biglow & Main was not publishing as many songbooks, and relied increasingly on reprinted material (215). Although there were health factors that also began to curb Crosby's lyrical output, the available data support Ruffin's conclusion that the New York titan of gospel music publishers was no longer needing her services as often. 

Biglow & Main publications per year in (trend line is 5 year rolling average)

On the other hand, by the turn of the century newer firms such as Hope Publishing of Chicago and the Rodeheaver Company of Winona Lake, Indiana were on the rise. They would eventually buy up the East-coast gospel music giants: Biglow & Main went to Hope Publishing, and Hall-Mack to Rodeheaver, who also bought out Kirkpatrick's Praise Publishing. The center of gravity of gospel music in the Northern U.S. was shifting to the Midwest and a new era of leadership, and the heyday of Southern shape-note gospel was well underway. but the "Yankee" era of gospel music, of Ocean Grove and Chautauqua, was coming to a close. As for Kirkpatrick, much of his music would live on in the new publishing centers, but he was no longer a major player.

Kirkpatrick and His Lyricists

In order to examine Kirkpatrick's output through the lens of the different authors whose lyrics he set, I selected ten of the Kirkpatrick lyricists in (out of 346 total) whose lyrics Kirkpatrick used at least 20 times, and whose Kirkpatrick settings had at least 80 songbook instances in total (roughly the top 5% of the 346 as far as total instances).

AuthorTotal instancesNo. of lyricsAvg. instances
Hewitt, Eliza E.1,8773964.74
Crosby, Fanny J.1,9842647.52
Owens, Priscilla J.6676210.76
Turner, Mrs. R. N.137353.91
James, Mary D.173325.41
Reed, Ida L.87302.9
Kirkpatrick, William J.6172524.68
Oatman, Johnson, Jr.169256.76
Barnes, Edward A.97253.88
Breck, Carrie Ellis131216.24

Fanny J. Crosby

It is interesting to note that although Eliza Hewitt wrote half again as many lyrics for Kirkpatrick as did Fanny Crosby, the Crosby-Kirkpatrick songs still outpaced the Hewitt-Kirkpatrick songs, 1,984 to 1,877 in overall instances. Crosby's numbers are bolstered, however, by the success of a small number of songs that achieved marked long-term success--"A wonderful Savior" (164 instances), "Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it" (118 instances), and "On the happy golden shore (109 instances). Hewitt had only one Kirkpatrick setting that came near these, "Trying to walk in the steps of the Savior (Stepping in the light)," with 114 overall instances. Sitting in third place in the above table is the other Philadelphia school teacher, Priscilla J. Owens, whose total instances with Kirkpatrick tunes are about a third as many as those of Crosby or Hewitt. But then Owens was nowhere near as prolific a writer as Crosby and Hewitt, and Kirkpatrick set far fewer of her lyrics--only 64, compared to 396 from Hewitt and 264 from Crosby. By a certain measure, Owens's collaboration with Kirkpatrick was actually more successful, with an average of 10.76 overall instances per song to 7.52 for Crosby and 4.74 for Hewitt. Being prolific gave more opportunity for success, but it also meant many more lyrics that did not catch on in the long run. Owens, with a smaller number of lyrics overall, produced two lasting successes--"We have heard the joyful sound (Jesus saves!)" (303 instances) and "Will your anchor hold?" (120 instances). These two account for more than half her total instances in the table above. A top 10 list of Kirkpatrick's songs by total instances in shows the importance of these three ladies to Kirkpatrick's career:

First lineFirst publishedTotal instancesLyricist
We have heard the joyful sound1882303Priscilla J. Owens
I've wandered far away from God1892272William J. Kirkpatrick
Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus1882256Louisa M. R. Stead
O spread the tidings 'round (Kirkpatrick arr.)1890171Francis Bottome
A wonderful Savior1890164Fanny J. Crosby
Away in a manger1895123Martin Luther (attributed)
Will your anchor hold1885120Priscilla J. Owens
Redeemed how I love to proclaim it1882118Fanny J. Crosby
Trying to walk in the steps of the Savior1889114Eliza E. Hewitt
On the happy golden shore (Meet me there)1885109Fanny J. Crosby

But as usual, anomalies emerge--in third place is Louisa M. R. Stead, a one-hit wonder who to my knowledge wrote no other song lyrics. And though Kirkpatrick did not write a lot of lyrics himself, and his average of instances per lyric was no doubt influenced by the ease with which he could repeat his own material in his books, he produced one long-lasting success: "I've wandered far away from God (Lord, I'm coming home)" (272 instances). The simple and heartfelt nature of this song, and its usefulness as an invitation or altar call (depending on your terminology), has probably contributed to its longevity.

Looking at how these top ten lyricists interacted with Kirkpatrick over time also gives a new insight into his career. The chart below shows the huge gap between Crosby's output of lyrics for Kirkpatrick (gray line) compared to the other lyricists, at least during the 1880s. This supports Ruffin's assertion that Crosby's most successful hymns were in the 1880s with the Hood-Sweney-Kirkpatrick connection, rather than with Biglow & Main (159). But beginning the late 1880s Hewitt (yellow line) equaled and then far surpassed Crosby in supplying Kirkpatrick with lyrics. 

Number of songs set by Kirkpatrick each year (top ten lyricists)

Eliza E. Hewitt
Ruffin suggests that by the 1890s Crosby was "written out" (165-166); though she still had some great songs left to write, her attention turned increasingly toward ministry to the poor and public speaking. Hewitt, by contrast, was just hitting her stride in 1887 with the success of "More about Jesus" (music by John Sweney), and would supply a huge proportion of the Sweney-Kirkpatrick songs toward the end of their writing for John J. Hood (see my post on 
"For Christ and the Church" for more background on Hewitt's career). Lest we think of these women as rivals, however, it should be noted that Crosby first met Hewitt at Kirkpatrick's home (Ruffin 172), and spoke of a later visit with Hewitt as a "gracious benediction" that gave them opportunity to converse on the work "dear to both of us" (Crosby 199). In 1897 Crosby had a serious fall and then a heart attack, and after a bout of pneumonia in 1900 was convinced by her sister that she ought to leave New York to live with them (Ruffin 183, 193). The chart above shows that Hewitt supplied Crosby's place as Kirkpatrick's muse from that point; they continued to collaborate until Hewitt's death in April 1920, a little over a year before Kirkpatrick's own demise.

Reassessing Kirkpatrick's Contribution

William James Kirkpatrick was never one to emphasize his own importance, and to some extent that may have obscured his contribution to gospel music compared to men who were more in the limelight. John C. Hunterton, recalling Kirkpatrick's work with Abram Jenks on the Devotional Melodies in the 1850s, described him as "a useful member among us; a young man of unobtrusive manner" (Memorial Record 62). Edmund S. Lorenz, who as a fellow professional knew Kirkpatrick in his later years and as a man of business, said he was "a man of quieter and less commanding temperament" than his peers in gospel music (336). But regardless of the man's modesty, one must agree with Mel Wilhoit's assessment of the man's true impact on his field:

William James Kirkpatrick occupies a central position in the history of the gospel song. As an editor, compiler, publisher, and composer, he exerted a wide and lasting influence on the course and development of the gospel song in the nineteenth century. During his long and distinguished career he influenced both lyrics and music in his role as editor and publisher. Kirkpatrick's nearly one hundred collections; which were published by a score of different publishers, enjoyed a widespread popularity within a number of different denominational and religious groups, although Kirkpatrick was closely aligned with Methodism. In addition, his role as composer has earned him a lasting place for over a century in many American hymnals (Wilhoit 177-178).

Lizzie Kirkpatrick in 1921

Though William Kirkpatrick's career was drawing to a close in the 1910s, he was by no means retired. Charles H. Gabriel described him in 1916 as "seventy-seven years young, hale, hearty, and busy at his work" (40). In January of the following year Kirkpatrick married a third time, to someone he had doubtless known for decades--Lizzie Hinkson Sweeney, the widow of Kirkpatrick's partner John R. Sweney (WJK family tree). They would have known each other for more than forty years by that time, and seem to have had a happy few years together in what time remained. Kirkpatrick continued to write songs, including one that appeared only after his death: "Lead Me to Calvary," with lyrics by the Quaker poet Jennie Hussey. This would become the standout song from his later years, and continues in use today.

George C. Stebbins, whose warm friendship with Kirkpatrick is obvious from his biographical sketch, gives this detail of Kirkpatrick's final hours (293), certainly a fitting end for one so devoted to his work:

Mr. Kirkpatrick died suddenly, at his residence in Germantown, Philadelphia. Mrs. Kirkpatrick found  her husband sitting in his favorite chair fast asleep--as she supposed--about four o'clock on the morning of September 29, 1921. On the floor at his feet was found a manuscript bearing the notation "9-29, 2 A.M."--which would indicate that he had heard his Master's call while yet in the midst of his last prayer, or doubtless he would have written a third stanza:

Just as Thou wilt, Lord, this is my cry:
Just as Thou wilt, to live or to die.
I am Thy servant; Thou knowest best;
Just as Thou wilt, Lord, labor or rest.

Just as Thou wilt, Lord,--which shall it be,
Life everlasting waiting for me,
Or shall I tarry here at Thy feet?
Just as Thou wilt, Lord, whate'er is meet.


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Lorenz, Edmund S. Church Music: What a Minister Should Know about It. New York: Revell, 1923.

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The Old Story in Song: for Evangelistic Meetings, Prayer Services, Sunday Schools and the Young People's Meetings, edited by Arthur S. Magann, Wm. J. Kirkpatrick, H.L. Gilmour. Philadelphia: Praise Publishing, 1906.

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Saturday, August 5, 2023

For Christ and the Church

 Praise for the Lord #156

Words: Eliza E. Hewitt, 1890
Music: William J. Kirkpatrick, 1890

Eliza Edmunds Hewitt
photo from Cyber Hymnal
The May 1923 celebration of "Music Week" in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania must have been an amazing time--churches, schools, factories, and clubs went all out to put on programs, three different bands played an hour each in one night, and a mass choir concert directed by famed music educator Hollis Dann exclusively featured music by Pennsylvania composers. Newspaper coverage also mentioned several Pennsylvania notables in sacred music to be featured, including James McGranahan, Philip P. Bliss, Elisha A. Hoffman, Robert Lowry--and Miss E. E. Hewitt, the only woman composer mentioned ("State supervisor"). Though Eliza E. Hewitt did not attain the degree or longevity of fame as her friend Fanny J. Crosby, she was a highly prolific lyricist and sometime composer who was recognized as a major figure in gospel music of her era. Some of her songs have lasted through the decades, such as "More about Jesus," "There is sunshine in my soul today," "Stepping in the light," "A blessing in prayer," and the perennial "When we all get to heaven." A. J. Showalter wrote in 1904 that Hewitt was "the author of more popular hymns for gospel songs and Sunday School use than any other one writer except Fanny J. Crosby" (Showalter 280). Based on a rough tabulation from, this was true at the time (James Rowe's prolific career was just beginning), and Hewitt still holds a solid third place for number of gospel song lyrics written.

Eliza Edmunds Hewitt (1851-1920) was born in Philadelphia to James and Zeruiah Hewitt of Cape May, New Jersey ("Eliza Edmunds Hewitt"). Her middle and last names link her to the old Colonial families of Cape May, possibly even to Mayflower Pilgrims (cf. Howe). James S. Hewitt was a sea captain, successful enough eventually to own an eponymous schooner ("Marine miscellany"), and saw his children go into learned professions in the Philadelphia area. George Ayres Hewitt, the oldest, graduated from Jefferson Medical College and was a regular contributor to medical journals ("George Ayres Hewitt, M.D."); younger brother Luther Edmunds Hewitt was the librarian of the City Hall Law Library (Gopsill's 2573); and Eliza Edmunds Hewitt was a public school teacher before an debilitating injury changed the course of her life.

Lyons Public School in 1912
Eliza Hewitt was admitted to the Girl's High and Normal School in 1865 (Annual Report 47(1865):225), and graduated with distinction in 1868 having just turned seventeen ("Girls' Normal School"). By 1871 she was the second assistant teacher at Girls School No. 6 (Annual Report 53(1871):132). From 1873-1878 she taught at Girls School No. 3 near Catharine & 10th streets (later the Lyons Public School), beginning as a third assistant and then as second assistant in 1875 (Annual Report 55(1873):132, 56(1874):125, 57(1875):152, 59(1877):144, 60(1878):111). She does not appear in the Philadelphia Public Schools Annual Report of 1879 or thereafter.

Biographers during her lifetime were not very specific about the injury that ended her public school career; Showalter says only that she was forced to resign by illness (280), and J. H. Hall specifies "serious spinal trouble" that forced her to resign and made her a shut-in for "a number of years" (345). It was not until 2003 that more details came to light: Dan Graves, writing about Hewitt for Christianity Today, was contacted by C. Edmunds Rhoad (grandson of Eliza's brother Luther) who revealed that Eliza was injured by a "reckless student striking her with a piece of slate" (Graves). Whether this was a student's writing slate or a loose slate from a roof is unclear, as well as the circumstances under which this happened.

As has been the case with a number of other hymnwriters, it seems that this forced retirement from public activity focused Hewitt's mind on devotional poetry. Hewitt had one hymn published already, in the words-only Hymns for Christian Worship (Cincinnati: Bosworth, Chase & Hall, 1871). But during her convalescence in the 1880s she began to show her prodigious ability in producing lyrics, and to make the connections that would get them set to music. Hewitt was becoming well known in Philadelphia Presbyterian circles; according to Hall, one of her hymns was placed in the cornerstone of the new Tabernacle Presbyterian Church in West Philadelphia, built in 1884 (Hall 345; Tabernacle United Church). John R. Sweney, choir director of Bethany Presbyterian in Philadelphia and music director for the popular religious encampment in Ocean Grove, New Jersey (Eskew), read some of Hewitt's lyrics and asked for more that he could set to music (Hall 345). Among the first of her lyrics widely published was "More about Jesus," set to music by Sweney; the invalid former teacher had written a song that was on the lips of Sunday School children across the country, and would go on to be her most widely-known contribution to gospel song.

Infant Praises (Philadelphia: John J. Hood, 1887)
Sweney (1837-1899) and his partner William J. Kirkpatrick (1838-1921) had begun editing songbooks for the John J. Hood Company in Philadelphia around 1880, and over the next two decades the pair would produce more than a hundred sacred music publications. During the period of collaboration with Kirkpatrick and Sweney, from 1887 to Sweney's death in 1899, Hewitt saw 819 new songs introduced in 109 different books. Of these songs, 421 were published in songbooks by by John J. Hood, all but a handful of which were edited by Sweney and/or Kirkpatrick. The next most prominent publisher of Hewitt's works in this period, by comparison, was the Hall-Mack Company (also of Philadelphia) with 48 new songs. William J. Kirkpatrick composed the music for 281 of these 819 new songs, and John R. Sweney composed for 213, bringing their total to 60% of all Hewitt's new songs from this period. The next most prolific composer for Hewitt's texts in this era was Adam Geibel with only 27 settings.

The information available on gospel music publishers from this era is frustratingly uneven; but in my estimation from WorldCat holdings, John J. Hood was second only to Biglow & Main of New York in the 1880s and 1890s. And just as Biglow & Main kept the ever-prolific Fanny Crosby on retainer, Sweney & Kirkpatrick had found their muse in Eliza Edmunds Hewitt. Of the 1,881 songs by Hewitt listed on,  I can identify the composer for 1,573; out of these, 369 were set to music by Kirkpatrick and 244 by Sweney. Together they wrote the music for 40% of her songs for which a composer can be identified. A full 433 of Hewitt's songs, about 23% of the total, were first published by John J. Hood. Following Sweney's death John J. Hood greatly reduced its offerings of gospel music books, but by that time Hewitt's popularity among composers and publishers was firmly established.

There would naturally be some ebb and flow in the publication of new songs, depending on external factors such as the length of time from writing the lyrics to being set to music and the timing of publication on the part of the publisher. Looking at Hewitt's output of new songs from 1887 through 1923 (when the last significant cluster of new texts appears, three years posthumously), the mean number was 50 songs per year and the median was 47. Breaking this down into different periods, however, the true range of her output becomes apparent. From 1887 through 1893, the mean and median are again 50 and 47 per year; but from 1894 through 1901, Hewitt's numbers skyrocket to a mean of 81 songs a year and a median of 90. Along with this increase in output was an increase in the number of different composers setting Hewitt's texts each year, which went from a mean average of 6 in 1887-1893 to 23.5 in 1894-1901. There was a corresponding change in the number of publishers Hewitt's songs appeared with each year, which averaged only 4 from 1887 through 1893 but averaged 10 different publishers each year in 1894-1901. This shows that even though Hewitt's relationship with John J. Hood and the Sweney-Kirkpatrick editorship was a huge part of her work in the 1890s, she was also gaining popularity with other composers and publishers, and was thus unfazed (professionally at least) by the loss of Sweney and the departure of John J. Hood from the gospel music field.

The chart above also shows that while Hewitt's number of different publishers, books, and composers for her new material held steady throughout the rest of her career, her overall output decreased significantly during the first four years of the new century. Ironically, this may have been related to her improved health; her old injury no longer kept her home and at her writing desk, and she devoted much of her time to the Sunday School department at Olivet Presbyterian Church (Showalter 280), and later at the Calvin Presbyterian Church (Gabriel 13). At one time she had charge of as many as 200 pupils (Hall 346), though certainly not without assistance! The rapid growth of Calvin Presbyterian from its beginnings at a tent revival in 1902 to a large, established congregation by 1904 corresponds with Hewitt's decrease in songwriting. The congregation has been described as "the outgrowth of a Sunday School" (Presbyterian Historical Society), and Hewitt was becoming directly involved with teaching and organizing in addition to writing songs and curriculum. She continued to lead the primary department as late as 1916 (Gabriel 13).

Something caused Hewitt's songwriting to increase again in the middle 1910s--whether she had more time to spend on it, or there was greater demand for her songs, is uncertain. The volume of publishing by Hall & Mack in Philadelphia remained strong during this decade, and Hewitt's songs were now also sought by a younger generation of gospel publishers such as Charles H. Gabriel and Homer Rodeheaver. The year 1917 saw the publication of 94 new songs by Eliza Hewitt, her biggest year since 1900 and sixth-highest yearly total. The following year shows a rapid falling off of writing, probably a result of declining health prior to her passing in 1920.

Hewitt's public profile was never as great as that of Fanny Crosby, but she was certainly among the top handful of gospel song lyricists of the 19th-early 20th centuries. Her output of songs shows a growth from the early association with John J. Hood and the Sweney-Kirkpatrick editorship to engagement with a broad range of songwriters and publishers across the country, including significant collaborations with the Fillmore Brothers in Cincinnati and a number of contributions to the Southern Methodist songbooks published in Nashville by Rigdon McIntosh. It would be no exaggeration to call her the "Fanny Crosby" of the Philadelphia gospel songbook business, and Crosby spoke of her as an esteemed friend and peer:
Miss Eliza E. Hewitt, who has written many beautiful hymns and poems for Mr. Kirkpatrick and other composers, several years ago called on me while I was in Philadelphia; and her visit was indeed a gracious benediction. At Assembly Park, New York, recently we renewed the friendship then so favorably begun; and there we spent many delightful hours in conversation about subjects dear to both of us (Crosby 199).

"For Christ and the church" first appeared in 1890 in two different publications: Living Hymns, edited by John Wanamaker with John R. Sweney, published by John J. Hood of Philadelphia, and Crowning Glory no. 2, edited by Peter Bilhorn and issued from his press in Chicago. I have not found any evidence which one appeared first. It was reprinted 16 more times by the end of the 1890s, returning in later works from John J. Hood and Peter Bilhorn, but also turning up in  Ira Sankey's Christian Endeavor Hymns (Biglow & Main), as well as in works by the Fillmore Brothers, Edwin O. Excell, and the then-fledgling Hope Publishing Company. During the 20th century the song faded away along with many others from the Northeastern gospel/Sunday school tradition, and it does not seem to have taken root in the Southern gospel world, at least in the paperback shape-note books. It did, however, settle into the regular hymnals of some religious fellowships, particularly the Church of the Brethren, Mennonites, and the Churches of Christ ("For Christ and the Church." Among the Churches of Christ in this country the song is unusual in that it was a northern Gospel song that was not included in Great Songs of the Church, but instead appears to have made entry by way of L. O. Sanderson's Christian Hymns no. 2 (Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1948). These ubiquitous little tan books (sometimes blue) that filled the pew racks during the postwar boom in church growth had a huge influence across the southern U.S. and probably spread the song to the Slaters (The Crown, 1949) and Firm Foundation (Majestic Hymnal, 1959). How Sanderson came by the song is unknown, but it was in the Christian Church songbooks as far back as the Praise Hymnal (Fillmore Bros., 1896) and had recently appeared in Standard Publishing's Favorite Hymns no. 2 (1942).

Stanza 1:

For Christ and the Church let our voices ring,
Let us honor the name of our own blessed King;
Let us work with a will in the strength of youth,
And loyally stand for the kingdom of truth.

There used to be signs outside of many small towns across the United States that advertised the locations and meeting times of various religious bodies, with an underlying text "Attend the Church of Your Choice." No doubt this was more practical than a string of individual signs (like the old Burma-Shave ads), and I heartily appreciate the sentiment that I may attend the church of my choice--as opposed to a state church, or a list of government-approved churches. But there also seemed to be an underlying message that although church attendance was socially desirable, it didn't really matter much where you joined up. Through the years I have encountered people who profess a belief in God and put their faith in Christ as Savior, but don't believe in what one friend called "organized religion" (to which I should have said, paraphrasing Will Rogers, "I am not a member of any organized religion; I attend the Church of Christ.") Another coworker once expressed his view that he and the Lord "had an understanding," which apparently excused a lot of behavior that my own less enlightened upbringing would not have tolerated. I suspect a number of things lie behind such sentiments. In the first case, my friend may have disillusioned by the behavior of church members or leadership. In the latter case, there may have been more of a desire not to be accountable to anyone else in his walk with Christ, or to simply feel reassured that his spiritual condition was fine and did not require attention.

The crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic forced a lot of painful decisions about church gatherings, and as an elder in my congregation (at the time) I was in the middle of them. Given the vulnerable health of many of our members, and our location in the middle of a major metropolitan area where cases were rapidly multiplying, we opted to hold online services only for a period of time. But we had to get back together in person--no question about it, it was just a matter of when. Just as people had to go back to their jobs at some point for physical life to go on, it was clear that the church had to assemble together again for spiritual life to go on. So as carefully as we could, waving across a "buffer pew" between us and sometimes shouting to be understood from behind masks, we came together again. It was a time that really caused one to reflect on the church and its role in the Christian life. What part does it play in my life? What part do I play in it?

These questions probably would have sounded odd to Eliza Hewitt. Alexis de Tocqueville had noted earlier in the 19th century that,

Americans of all ages, all conditions, and all dispositions, constantly form associations. They have not only commercial and manufacturing companies, in which all take part, but associations of a thousand other kinds--religious, moral, serious, futile, extensive, or restricted, enormous or diminutive. The Americans make associations to give entertainments, to found establishments for education, to build inns, to construct churches, to diffuse books, to send missionaries to the antipodes ; and in this manner they found hospitals, prisons, and schools. If it be proposed to advance some truth, or to foster some feeling by the encouragement of a great example, they form a society (2:114).

This importance of clubs, associations, and other kinds of organizations was still very strong through Hewitt's time, and in fact down through the middle of the 20th century. An American simply took it as a given that a major part of life was participation in the community through clubs, societies, and of course through one's church. Does it need to be said that this is not who we are any more, at least for much of the population of the country? But the church still stands, whether our society embraces it or rejects it; and the questions above still stand. What have I to do with the church, and what does it have to do with me?

"And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18).

In such momentous fashion we first encounter the word "church" (Greek ekklēsia) in the New Testament, from the lips of Christ himself. Whether Jesus actually spoke the Greek word ekklēsia in the moment or an equivalent Aramaic word, it was this term that Matthew, our eyewitness, uses in the inspired text. He had already used synagōgē seven times in his gospel, and the verb form synagō an additional seven times, in the general sense of "gathering" or "collecting" something; the choice of a  new and different word here emphasizes the newness of the concept (Porter 160). And for what it is worth, the extant Aramaic/Syriac versions of Matthew 16:18 use the term lˁēḏtā, which historically carried the notion of a group called as witnesses ("ˁdh, ˁdtˀ," Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon), and not the usual Aramaic term for synagogue (Payne-Smith, cf. 402, 218).

But what did His listeners hear in that word? The Liddell-Scott-Jones lexicon (1940 revision) defines it as an "assembly duly summoned, less general than [sullogos]." In the Greek cities, it was the assembly of citizens for civic business; by extension, in the Septuagint it was applied to the "congregation of Israel" as the nation called out by God (1:509). A quick Google search of sullogos shows that it is even today the Greek term for a professional association or or social club, such as a sullogos athlitikon (athletic club). Though ekklēsia could also refer to a general assembling of people, as it does in Acts 19:32 describing the rushing together of the citizens of Ephesus to protest Paul's preaching, even in that context the city clerk chides his fellow citizens for not being a "lawful" ekklēsia (Acts 19:39). Being part of an ekklēsia, then, was more serious than being part of some accidental gathering around a common interest or voluntary social organization. For the citizen of a Greek city it was a defining part of one's identity--one might have a lot in common with those in the same trade, or followers of the same philosophy, who were from other cities--but a fellow Athenian, or fellow Spartan, was practically family. Citizenship in the ekklēsia was a brotherhood and heritage, an obligation and a privilege. 

Which no doubt raised the question in the apostles' minds, what could Jesus mean by building His own new ekklēsia? Though He had been proclaiming the "kingdom of heaven," Jesus had already rejected the notion of becoming an earthly king (John 6:15, following events also recorded in Matthew 14). He maintained this to the end, telling Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36), but explaining further, "You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world--to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice" (John 18:37). Citizenship in Christ's kingdom is not something determined by ancestry or boundaries on a map; it is an ekklēsia made up of those who are called out of the "domain of darkness" (Colossians 1:13) by the foundational truth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (Matthew 16:16). It is a "kingdom of truth," as Hewitt puts it in her opening stanza, an expression that is not found in Scripture but is certainly scriptural.

So it is "Christ and the church" or nothing at all; they cannot be taken separately. A church without Christ at its head--that is not in submission to His will--is a building suspended in air without a foundation, or even worse, a grotesquely animated body without a head (Ephesians 1:22). It may have impressive numbers and great works, but it would be better off reorganized as a social club or charitable foundation. And a Christian without the church is (somehow?) rejecting the the will of God who "added to their number day by day those who were being saved" (Acts 2:47), and is missing out on the called-out group of believers the Lord founded, "which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all (Ephesians 1:23).


For Christ our dear Redeemer,
For Christ the crucified;
For the Church His blood hath purchased;
The Church, His holy bride.

In the chorus of this song, Hewitt rightly emphasizes Christ and His work first, because without Him the church would not and could not exist:

He is the image of the invisible God, the Firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent. For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross (Colossians 1:15-20).

It is not uncommon among the Churches of Christ to be reminded, especially among congregational leadership, to "remember whose name is on the sign outside." It is Christ's church, not mine, not yours, not the preacher's; and those who serve in roles of leadership must remember that we are just stewards and servants for a little while, who must someday report in to the "Chief Shepherd" (1 Peter 5:4). It is His church because He bought and paid for it at a price we cannot comprehend. He is the Head of the church, the will that directs it just as the brain in my head commands my fingers to type these words. 

The last line of the chorus introduces another curious metaphor of Christ and His church, based on Paul's words in Ephesians 5:25-32.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of His body. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 

Here the picture of Christ and the church as a Head and body is transformed to a different perspective;  so closely does Christ cherish and treasure His church that it is compared to the powerful, transformative union of husband and wife. We cannot help but see a foreshadowing here also of the words of the angel in Revelation 21:9, "Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb." With what respect and awe, then, ought we to treat the Bride of Christ? Now, I try to be tolerant and forgiving to everyone, but mistreat my wife and I am liable to become downright unreasonable. I can forgive a lot when it is directed toward me, but my wife is entirely another matter. I suppose most husbands feel the same. How dare we then to do any anything to mistreat or upset the Bride of Christ? Let us always show the respect to the church that its Head and Husband commands, and never do anything to harm it!

Stanza 2:

For Christ and the Church be our earnest pray’r,
Let us follow His banner, the cross daily bear;
Let us yield, wholly yield, to the gospel’s pow’r,
And serve faithfully ev’ry day, ev'ry hour.

In the 11th chapter of 2 Corinthians, Paul takes a few paragraphs to "speak as a fool" (v. 17), detailing some of his hardships--not for a "pity party" but to remind the readers of the genuineness of his calling and his commitment to the gospel. As an afterthought to the privations and punishments he had experienced, he adds in verse 28, "and, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches." "Earnest prayer" for the church is evident throughout Paul's letters:

For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you (Romans 1:9-10).

But we pray to God that you may not do wrong--not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for (2 Corinthians 13:7-9).

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now (Philippians 1:3-5).

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding (Colossians 1:9).

We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3).

To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of His calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by His power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12).

How much stronger could the local church be, if every member were offering up such prayers on its behalf?

The next line of Hewitt's stanza brings up another turn of phrase intimately connected with Jesus' announcement of the church in Matthew 16:18--the requirement that His followers bear their crosses (Luke's account records this with the adverb "daily," 9:23). Familiarity has probably led us to miss how out-of-place this seemed in context, but the disciples didn't have that problem. Jesus had started out by stating His own purpose to go to Jerusalem where He would bear a cross to His death, and Peter could not accept that the Son of God who had just previewed the founding of His church would go to such an ignominious end. Jesus rebuked Peter sharply, then spoke these words that ring in every disciple's ears since: "If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me" (Mat 16:24).

What does it mean to bear that cross daily? Perhaps it will help us to understand first what it meant to Jesus, as recorded in the beautiful language of Philippians 2:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (v. 5-8).

By bearing the cross to His death, Jesus would do (to an infinitely greater degree) what He required of His followers: He denied self. "Denying self" in this context is not some matter of refusing to partake of something we want; though that may be necessary in some particulars, Paul rejected mere asceticism on its own as "of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh" (Colossians 2:23). The denial spoken of here is the same language used of Peter in Matthew 26:70, "But he denied it, saying "I do not know the Man." Jesus was "in the form of God" but gave up His former condition of "equality with God" (Philippians 2:6), effectively denying connection to His former state and saying "I do not know the Man." He was in a new relation to His Father and to humanity. In the same way (though such a pale comparison!), if I have "put off the old self, which belongs to your former manner of life" and have "put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:22-24), I can say of my old self, "I do not know the man; I do not acknowledge his will, because I follow Christ now." Whatever cross He may call on me to bear, I can only take up by first kneeling under it in submission and acknowledging that I am no longer in charge here.

Now consider on the other hand what the cross does for us: it reconciles us to God and to fellow humanity (Ephesians 2:16); it takes away the debt of sin (Colossians 2:14); it makes peace (Colossians 1:20); "it is the power of God" (1 Corinthians 1:18). The "gospel's power" of which Hewitt speaks in this stanza began at the cross, as Jesus promised: "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself" (John 12:32). Christ's church helps to carry out this wonderful mission, "not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power" (1 Corinthians 1:17), but through "Christ crucified" (1 Corinthians 1:23). It is the honor and duty of the church to carry this cross to the world, so that "through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known," even "to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 3:10)

Stanza 3:

For Christ and the Church willing offerings make,
Time and talents and gold for the dear Master’s sake;
We will render the best we can bring to Him,
The heart’s wealth of love, that will never grow dim.

This stanza addresses the subject of giving in a well-considered, comprehensive way. People typically think of offerings as the weekly contribution to the church treasury, so it is notable that Hewitt puts "time and talents" before "gold."  In my experience those who give their time and talents to the Lord's service are also generous with their monetary contributions (if they are able), a phenomenon Paul pointed out long ago when he praised the Macedonian churches for their generosity: "they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us" (2 Corinthians 8:5). It is wonderful to see Christians who are well blessed in worldly goods and then dedicate those riches to the Lord, and I am glad to know some who hear of a brother or sister in financial difficulty and ask simply, "How much do they need?" But financial contributions alone are no substitute for the "time and talents" the church requires; money cannot buy sincere prayer and encouragement for the struggling, or the example and instruction of the mature Christian to the younger. Money cannot buy the listening ear or the honest criticism of someone who wants only the best for us. Money cannot buy someone to sit with us in the "Gethsemanes" of life. Who will do these things? (And don't say that's what you pay the preacher for!) We have all needed brothers and sisters like this, and conversely, there is someone in the church who needs me, and needs you, to be this brother or sister to them.

With that broader view of giving to the church in mind, Paul's great text on the subject from 2 Corinthians 9:6-12 takes on even deeper meaning:

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, "He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever." He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God (2 Corinthians 9:6-12)

God promises that if we sincerely wish to give, He will provide us the means to do it. Surely that applies as much to giving our time and effort as to giving money. It is a personal decision, of course; just as we would be poor stewards if we gave our rent money in the collection plate, we would be poor stewards to commit our time and effort to the church beyond what we can manage. (And if you are raising children, or caring for elderly family members, God has already given you a large assignment!) But let us start first with the attitude of "What can I do?" and not "What do I have to do?"

Stanza 4:

For Christ and the Church let us cast aside,
By His conquering grace, chains of self, fear, and pride;
May our lives be enriched by an aim so grand;
Then happy the call to the Savior’s right hand.

The final stanza of the song may be an oblique reference to Hebrews 12:1, but in more of a community sense than that of the individual: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." What holds back the individual, of course, holds back the church. There are many things that can keep us in chains--"you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness" (Romans 6:16)--and thank God there is One stronger yet who came to "proclaim liberty to the captives" and "set at liberty those who are oppressed" (Luke 4:18, cf. Isaiah 61:1-2). But first, of course, we have to realize we are in chains! "Self" and "pride" are two of the most powerful shackles by which we can be imprisoned; as Isaac Watts noted, "Pride is one vice but it supports a hundred" (Humility 41). 

Pride in the church works in many ugly ways. Those in positions of public prominence who become puffed up by the members' praise and start "believing their own press" can develop a complacency about their work, a hostility to necessary criticism, and most dangerously, a blind spot toward their own faults and weaknesses. These individuals can become easy pickings for the Devil, and sometimes give him the satisfaction of wrecking an entire congregation as well. But pride can also haunt people who are not in such positions and think they should be. Bitterness can set in and stop them from even accomplishing those works which are right in front of them and begging for their talents. Their downfall is not as dramatic or as fast as the first group, but for very little effort on his part the Devil has effectively neutralized their usefulness to Christ's church.

The problem of pride is so critical that Paul addressed it multiple times, twice using the metaphor of the human body to illustrate the spiritual body of Christ:

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another (Romans 12:3-5).

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose (1 Corinthians 12:14-18).

Note the transition in the Romans passage from "thinking with sober judgment" about our place in the church, to the metaphor of the body. It is human nature to compare ourselves with others; but if we truly have different functions, as do the parts of the body, how relevant will that comparison be? Which is more important, a hand or a foot? We probably consider a hand more important because we can do so many things with it, whereas the lowly foot can only do a few things. But those few things include standing and walking! If you have ever had a broken toe, you know just how much we depend on all those little parts in the foot (which we take for granted) to do their jobs every day. Remember that the Head of the church himself took the role of the lowliest servant to wash the feet of His own followers, and never doubt the value of every role in the church.

These passages also have the common theme of God's hand in this sorting out of roles: this is something He "assigns" and "arranges," even though it is not always apparent to us what He is doing. It takes time to find our roles, or to grow into them, and sometimes they will change. Like everything else in the Christian life, it requires patience and humility.

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:1-2).

Being a church of Christ isn't easy, and it's not what people often think. It isn't a group of people who  are always in agreement, bubbling over with joy in each other's company and so spiritually elevated that they are floating a little off the ground. But most of the really important and satisfying things in life aren't easy.  Is marriage easy? Is raising children easy? Even at their best, these parts of life are hard work, because they involve other people, and dealing with people (even people we love the most) sometimes means frustration, tears, and a lot of apologizing and trying again. But God placed us in the church for a reason, and He knows best. In His wisdom He decided that we would have to get through this together, the weak and the strong, the mature and the novices, the introverts and the extroverts. None of us is so strong that we can go it alone; none of us is so weak that we cannot help someone else. 

About the music:

My attempt to summarize William Kirkpatrick's career for this post finally grew so complicated that I decided to treat him in a separate essay; for now I have just a few observations about the music he contributed to this particular text. The style is that of a march, but a marching song such as Kirkpatrick would have known from his Civil War days, rather than the modern American march genre as it was being redefined by John Philip Sousa and others. "For Christ and the church" is actually contemporary with Sousa's classics Washington Post and High School Cadets, but sounds more like such wartime marching songs as George Frederick Root's "Battle Cry of Freedom" and "Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! the Boys are Marching" (which survives today as "Jesus Loves the Little Children"). 

Not that Kirkpatrick was necessarily old-fashioned; the American instrumental march style was developing its own personality, with a characteristic swagger and bravura that did not lend itself to sacred topics. But perhaps some of that spirit comes through in this tune after all, with the dramatic octave leap at the end of the second measure and the sudden pause at the end of the second phrase, as though gathering energy for the next surge forward. It is meant to excite, and one can only imagine how well received it was in its time, when it was still new and very much within the musical styles familiar to congregations. It sings easily even today, and has a forward motion that tends to keep the beat moving as if under its own power.


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