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The one hundred lowest numbered cobs are all hymns and reflect the fact that the easily portable twenty-note roller organ could be readily used to provide music in small country churches without a regular organ or piano, at informal religious gatherings in people's homes and at tent meetings and outdoor revivals. The tunes on them include many hymns that would be familiar even today to those who grew up in the American Protestant religious tradition such as #18, “He Leadeth Me”, #65, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”, #67, “Rock of Ages”, and the nearly universally-sung doxology, #71, “Old Hundred”. Others were certainly better known a hundred years ago than they are today but have slipped into disuse except in the more fundamentalist and evangelical denominations (and even there are regarded as old fashioned), such as #1, “In the Sweet Bye and Bye”, #12, “Hold the Fort”, #24, “Bringing in the Sheaves”, and #91, “Rescue the Perishing”. Still others, such as #13, “Just As I Am”, and #89, “Softly and Tenderly”, are still used for “altar calls” at evangelistic crusades. Then, of course, there are the four Christmas carols in the group, all considered very desirable by most people with roller organs, #15, “Antioch” (“Joy to the World”), #31, “Christmas” (“While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night”), #32, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”, and #59, “Portuguese Hymn” (“Adeste Fideles”/ “O Come All Ye Faithful”). Of these, #31 and #32 are more common than #15 and #59.
During the roller organ era, lovers of hymns were eager to learn more about the people who wrote and composed them and how they came to be written. A whole body of lore grew up pointing to divine inspiration for the creation of many of these hymns. We repeatedly are told by sources of the day that a particular hymn just came to the author or composer spontaneously and was completed in a very short time and did not require any editing or alteration. #1, “The Sweet Bye and Bye”, for example, reportedly took the author and composer, a pharmacist and a music teacher in a small town in Wisconsin, only a half hour to complete and it had achieved great popularity within weeks, and the words to #17, “What Hast Thou Done for Me”, were reportedly scribbled by the author, Frances Ridley Havergal, on the back of an advertising circular and when she was about to throw it into the fire, something held her back from doing so and her hymn was preserved for posterity. Again and again, also, we read of an author or composer with a single, hastily-produced effort that has received much more attention, from the perspective of history, than a great body of other accomplishments. #6, “Onward Christian Soldiers”, for example, was, we are told, written very quickly by a scholarly Anglican clergyman in a small English village for a particular children's procession and the author is now remembered more for this hymn than for a lifetime of writings on more esoteric subjects. Perhaps the most extreme example of this is found in the case of Sir John Bowring, who was onetime governor of Hong Kong, served in the British House of Commons and reportedly could speak in 100 languages and read 200, as well as being an accomplished poet, yet it is the opening line of his hymn “In the Cross of Christ I Glory” (sung to “Rathbun”, cob #61), that appears on his tombstone.
Again and again, as well, we find cases where an author or composer produced a hymn that became immensely popular and followed it with dozens or even hundreds of others that never received anything close to the same degree of recognition. This is a common phenomenon that can also be observed, for example, in popular music of the past fifty years; we all know of “one hit wonders” with a single song that raced to the top of the charts who, decades later, are still trying to understand what happened and to identify and recapture the formula for the single success. In accounting for the great popularity of certain hymns, apart from the marriage of singable, inspiring words with an especially memorable or appealing tune, it was very often the singing of a hymn at large public gatherings that popularized it. This is particularly true of the hymns that were selected and repeated night after night at the monster revival rallies conducted by crusaders such as the evangelist Dwight L. Moody and his song leader Ira D. Sankey. Although Sankey is not particularly remembered for his own musical compositions—his only effort that appeared on the roller organ was #85, “I Am Praying for You”, in my opinion a clumsy-sounding sort of tune—the hymns he introduced at the Moody and Sankey rallies in the United States and the British Isles and he included in his hymn books, Sacred Songs and Solos and Gospel Hymns Nos. 1-6 Complete, constitute the very most popular hymns of the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s. In fact, for any lover of hymns on the roller organ, Gospel Hymns Nos. 1-6 Complete is a wonderful single source of music and words to the great majority of hymns that appeared on cobs. It is easy to locate copies of this 1894 book online.
Another interesting observation that can be made is that many of the authors and composers of the roller organ hymns were related to one another as teacher and student, colleagues or collaborators: just as many of the later popular songs on the roller organ emanated from the same group of “Tin Pan Alley” songwriters and composers, a large number of the low-numbered hymns on the roller organ came from what can be regarded as the mid to late nineteenth-century American sacred music establishment. Lowell Mason, sometimes called the father of American hymnody, wrote or arranged the music on no fewer than nine of the first hundred cobs (cobs #2, 4, 7, 15, 33, 34, 40, 43 and 83). A number of the composers of other hymns in the same group either studied with Mason in Boston or collaborated with him, including the major figures William B. Bradbury (cobs #13, 18, 42, 68 and 84), who established himself in New York, and George F. Root (cob #10), who relocated to Chicago, as well as Joseph P. Webster (cob #1), Samuel F. Smith (cob #14), Thomas Hastings (cobs #37, 62, 67 and 73), Henry K. Oliver (cob #45), George J. Webb (cob #48) and William F. Sherwin (cob #69). P. P. Bliss, the composer of the largest number of hymn tunes in the group after Mason (cobs #12, 17, 22, 25, 26, 29, 87 and 88), left his native Pennsylvania to take a job with Root in Chicago and there met and became associated with Major Daniel Whittle (cob #9) and Dwight L. Moody and his song leader Ira D. Sankey (cob #85). When Bliss died in a train wreck in 1876 Whittle and James McGranahan (cobs #9, 27, 28 and 99) retrieved his luggage from the wreckage and McGranahan completed a hymn on which Bliss had been working (cob #27) and replaced him as Whittle's song leader.
The subject of hymn books is also relevant to the hymns that appeared on the roller organ. The publishing of hymnals was a very lucrative enterprise for a number of the authors and composers of these hymns and in many cases these individuals compiled dozens of collections, largely for use by children in Sunday schools. Probably the best example of someone who became immensely wealthy from promoting the singing of hymns, writing hymn tunes, compiling hymn collections, publishing them and even manufacturing and selling pianos is William B. Bradbury, the composer of such tunes as “Just As I Am” (cob #13), “He Leadeth Me” (#18), “Sweet Hour of Prayer” (#68) and a number of others that appeared on the roller organ. He amassed such a great fortune that, while still a young man, he was able to take two years away from his business interests and travel with his entire family through Europe. On his death in 1868, Bradbury's publishing company was succeeded by Biglow & Main (Lucius H. Biglow being the source of the financing and Hubert P. Main, composer of the tunes on cobs #58, “In the Silent Midnight Watches”, and #81, “We Shall Meet Beyond the River”, being the music specialist). Rev. Robert Lowry, a Baptist minister and the composer of #3, “I Need Thee Every Hour”, #90, “All the Way my Saviour Leads Me”, and the lesser-known #92, “Follow On”, the author and composer of #23, “Where is my Boy Tonight?”, and the arranger of an old Isaac Watts hymn and composer of a new tune to go with it to create #100, “We're Marching to Zion”, became Biglow & Main's music editor. A collaborator of Lowry's was William H. Doane, a Baptist layman in Cincinnati and composer of #30, “Precious Name”, #72, “Pass Me Not”, #86, “More Love to Thee, O Christ”, #91, “Rescue the Perishing”, and the lesser-known #93, “Come, Great Deliverer, Come”. Doane is remembered as the composer of over 2,000 hymn tunes and compiler of over 40 hymn collections, often writing tunes to go with words contributed by the great and comparably productive blind hymn writer Fanny Crosby (who was first encouraged to write hymns by Bradbury). Upon his death Doane left a substantial amount of money to the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago which financed the building of the Doane Memorial Music Building there. There are other examples, as well, of authors and composers of roller organ hymns who were very prolific in compiling and publishing hymnals and selling pianos, organs and other musical instruments and some of them accumulated substantial wealth in the process.
The commercial aspect of the creation of hymns that appeared on the roller organ does not detract from the fact that many of them are sung to tunes of great beauty with words that have inspired and comforted many and have led and continue to lead to the saving of many souls. Nearly all of them reflect simple, pretty and in some cases powerful arrangements of the very most popular hymns of the day and they are a great pleasure to hear.
A note on scarcity: It is certainly possible, although not easy, to collect a complete set of cobs #1-100. Many of the lowest-numbered hymns are among the most common cobs and many people with roller organs are not especially interested in them unless they are devotees of the religious tradition that produced them. It is, therefore, not unusual to find people selling hymn cobs for a lower price than non-hymn cobs and to find batches of hymn cobs for sale inexpensively. The scarcest cobs in this numerical range, all with a scarcity rating of S (“Scarce”) are #37, “Zion”, #38, “Warwick”, #51, “St. Catharine”, #53, “Brownell”, #54, “Hummel”, #56, “Wilson”, #57, “Repose”, #82, “Fisk”, and #99, “Onward Go”, all but #37 relatively unfamiliar tunes and all but #99 tunes identified by the one-word tune name rather than by the title of a hymn sung to it. Cobs of this latter type are generally scarcer than other hymn cobs, presumably because they would not have been recognizable to the average person making a selection from a list of cob titles and in addition because they were not included in the somewhat abbreviated lists of available hymn cobs published in such places as the Sears Roebuck catalog. Also, because they were not popular cobs, they may have been deleted from the Autophone Company's line of available cobs at a fairly early point in time.
#1 - The Sweet Bye And Bye, Scarcity: MC
In the 1880s, when the roller organ was invented, human life was more tenuous, and deaths in infancy and childhood were much more common than they are today. The theme of this simple hymn, that we will be reunited with loved ones in Heaven, was comforting to many. Its words were written by S. (Sanford) Fillmore Bennett (1836-1898) and its music was composed by Joseph P. (Philbrick) Webster (1819-1875). Bennett was a pharmacist who later became a medical doctor and Webster was a music teacher who had studied music with Lowell Mason in Boston (see notes to cob #2). Both lived in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. The hymn dates from 1868 and reportedly took only thirty minutes to complete as Bennett and Webster worked on it in Bennett's drugstore. It became popular almost immediately; Bennett later said that “within two weeks children on the street were singing it.” Evangelist Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899) and his song leader Ira D. (David) Sankey (1840-1908) popularized it further by adopting it as one of the “new songs” they used at their extremely well attended evangelical meetings in Great Britain in 1873. Neither Bennett nor Webster is remembered today as the author or composer of any other hymn. This cob is one of the five most common ones. The tune also appeared on the Grand roller organ (cob #3014). References: GH #110, 101MHS, IS.
#2 - Nearer, My God, To Thee, Scarcity: MC
The words to this hymn were written by Sarah Flower Adams (1805-1848), an Englishwoman, and appeared in Hymns and Anthems, an 1841 hymnal compiled by the minister of the Unitarian church she attended. The music was written fifteen years later by Lowell Mason (1792-1872) to go with the words, and the hymn thereafter achieved great popularity. Mason was one of the most important figures in American hymnody and composed many of the hymn tunes that appeared on the roller organ. As a young man working in a bank in Savannah, Georgia, he studied harmony and composition and served as organist at a Presbyterian church. In 1827 he returned to his native Massachusetts and settled in Boston, where he wrote a children's book on sacred music in 1829, established the Boston Academy of Music in 1833 and introduced the study of music in the Boston public school system in 1838. He published over 80 music books, wrote more than 1,000 hymn tunes and arranged more than 500 others. “Nearer, My God to Thee” was reportedly President William McKinley's favorite hymn and the one he sang on his deathbed after being shot in 1901. It is also sometimes said that the tune was played on board the Titanic as the ship sank in 1912, but others say that the tune that was played was “Autumn” (cob #631). Cob #2 is the most common cob and it is unusual to find any batch of cobs of any size that does not include at least one copy of it. The tune also appeared on the Grand roller organ (cob #3005). References: GH #719, MH #362, 101HS, HU, IS, MC.
#3 - I Need Thee, Every Hour, Scarcity: C
This hymn dates from 1872. The words were written by Annie S. (Sherwood) Hawks (1835-1918), a housewife in Brooklyn, New York with a talent for poetry who was a member of Rev. Robert Lowry's congregation at the Hanson Place Baptist Church there. Lowry (1826-1899), who wrote the music, had become music editor at Biglow Publishing Company upon the death of William Bradbury in 1868 (see notes to cob #13) and participated in the preparation of many hymnals, including the collection Royal Diadem (1873), in which this hymn first appeared. He also wrote the words and music for the hymn “Shall We Gather at the River” (cob #634) and the music for the hymns “All the Way My Saviour Leads Me” (cob #90) and “We're Marching to Zion” (cob #100). References: GH #597, CL, MH #232, 101MHS, HU.
#4 - From Greenland's Icy Mountains, Scarcity: C
This hymn, sometimes called “The Missionary Hymn”, was written spontaneously in 1819 for use at a missionary service by Reginald Heber (1783-1826), an Oxford-educated English clergyman who was later appointed Anglican Bishop of Calcutta, India and is better known as the writer of the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy.” The music was composed very quickly to go with Heber's words several years later by Lowell Mason (1792-1872), the enormously productive American composer of hymn tunes (see notes to cob #2), while he was working as a bank clerk in Savannah, Georgia. The hymn is seldom sung today because its references to benighted residents of exotic climes are considered demeaning. The tune also appears on the Grand roller organ as cob #3015. References: GH #41, CL, MH #484, 101HS, HU.
#5 - Duke Street, Scarcity: LC
This is the first of a number of hymn cobs on the roller organ identified by the name of the hymn tune rather than by words associated with it. These cobs are, as a group, scarcer, perhaps because many purchasers selecting cobs from a list of titles would not order them because they did not know, for example, that “Duke Street” was the name of the tune used for familiar hymns such as “Jesus Shall Reign Where'er the Sun” (Isaac Watts (1674-1748), 1719), “O God, Beneath Thy Guiding Hand” (Leonard Bacon (1802-1881), 1833) and “Come Let Us Tune Our Loftiest Song” (Robert A. West (1809-1865)). The tune was composed by an Englishman, John Hatton (c. 1710-1793), in the last year of his life. References: GH #624, MH #21, 479, 493, CL, 101HS.
#6 - Onward, Christian Soldiers, Scarcity: C
The words to this well-known hymn were written very quickly in 1864 by Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924), an Anglican clergyman, to be sung in a children's procession from one Yorkshire village to another. Baring-Gould was a scholar who wrote dozens of books on a variety of subjects including history, folklore, mythology and travel as well as religion and he was surprised at the prominence this hastily-produced effort achieved. The tune, “St. Gertrude”, was composed six years later by Sir Arthur S. (Seymour) Sullivan (1842-1900), who is better known for his operettas written in collaboration with W. S. Gilbert. This hymn's image of crusading Christians marching into battle made it very popular with the more evangelical Protestant sects. References: GH #365, MH #280, 101HS, HU.
#7 - Ariel, Scarcity: LC
This pretty and unusual hymn tune was arranged by Lowell Mason (1792-1872) (see notes to cob #2) in 1836 from European sources. Some have claimed that the tune originated with classical composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). The words generally associated with it are “O Could I Speak the Matchless Worth” (Samuel Medley (1738-1799), 1789). References: MH #168, CL.
#8 - Sweeping Through The Gates, Scarcity: LC
The music to this hymn was written by Philip Phillips (1834-1895), who was born in upstate New York and was known as “The Singing Pilgrim”. He traveled widely selling pianos, organs and Sunday School songbooks and it is said that one of his musical works, American Sacred Songster, sold over a million copies. The words were written by Rev. John Parker. References: GH #666, CH, MC.
#9 - I'll Stand By Until the Morning, Scarcity: LC
The words to this hymn were written by (Civil War) Major Daniel W. (Webster) Whittle (1840-1901), onetime treasurer of the Elgin Watch Company in Chicago, who became associated with evangelist Dwight L. Moody and wrote many hymns under the name “El Nathan”. Whittle worked with hymn singer and song leader Philip P. Bliss (see notes to cobs #12 and 27) until Bliss died in a train wreck in 1876 and James McGranahan (1840-1907) replaced him. Whittle and McGranahan subsequently collaborated on a large number of hymns, including this one. McGranahan, a Pennsylvania native with a beautiful tenor voice, was involved in music conventions and singing schools from an early age and worked with Ira Sankey on Gospel Hymns Nos. 3, 4, 5 and 6, which make up part of GH. References: 101HS, HU.
#10 - The Shining Shore—Nelson, Scarcity: LC
The author of the words to this hymn (sometimes referred to as “My Days Are Gliding Swiftly By”) was Rev. David Nelson (1793-1844), who had an interesting career: he was born in Tennessee, received training in surgery, served as a regimental surgeon during the War of 1812, was ordained as a minister in 1825 and ultimately became President of Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Quincy, Illinois. An opponent of slavery, he reportedly wrote this hymn on the back of a letter he had in his pocket while being chased from Missouri into Illinois because of his beliefs in 1835. The music was by George F. (Frederick) Root (1820-1895), who was born in Massachusetts, studied under Lowell Mason (see notes to cob #2) and became a music teacher and organist in Boston, where he assisted Mason in teaching music in the Boston public schools. After moving to New York in 1844, he taught at the New York School for the Blind, where the prolific hymn writer Fanny Crosby (see notes to cob #72) was one of his students. In 1858 he moved again, to Chicago, where he joined his brother as one of the founders of the Root and Cady Publishing Company, a major publisher of music. He composed not only hymn tunes but a number of popular songs as well, including the well-known Civil War song “Tramp, Tramp” (cob #229). References: GH #665, MH, CH, 101HS, IS.
#11 - Sicilian Hymn, Scarcity: LC
This hymn tune, also known as “Sicilian Mariners' Hymn”, was arranged from a Sicilian melody. One set of words used with it is “Lord, Dismiss Us with Thy Blessing” (by the Baptist minister John Fawcett, 1740-1817); another is “O Thou Joyful, O Thou Wonderful” (translated from the German). The same tune appears (with different pin configurations) on two other cobs, #661, where it is called “Sicily”, and #759. References: MH #26, MC.
#12 - Hold the Fort, Scarcity: C
This great evangelical hymn, which dates from 1870, is the first of a number of hymns on the roller organ with words and music by P. P. (Philip Paul) Bliss (1838-1876). Bliss was born in Clearfield County in northwestern Pennsylvania and grew up in impoverished circumstances, leaving home at 11 to work on farms, in sawmills and in lumber camps. As a musician, he was largely self-taught. When he was 25, he sent a copy of his first music manuscript to George F. Root (see notes to cob #10) hoping to sell it in exchange for a flute. Root sent him the flute and encouraged him in his musical endeavors and a year later Bliss moved to Chicago and took a job with the Root and Cady Publishing Company conducting music conventions and training institutes. In 1869 he met Dwight L. Moody and began singing at his evangelistic meetings. Bliss also worked with Major Daniel W. Whittle (see notes to cob #9) and this hymn was based by Bliss on an illustration from the Civil War that Whittle had used in one of his sermons. The hymn was widely used by Moody and his song leader, Ira D. Sankey, at their meetings in the United States and England. Bliss helped Sankey compile Gospel Hymns and Sacred Songs (1875) and Gospel Hymns No. 2 (1876), which constituted the first two parts of GH. Although Bliss wrote many hymns, the monument to him near his birthplace is inscribed with his name and the words “Author of 'Hold the Fort'”. This hymn also appeared on the Grand roller organ as cob #3007. References: GH #11, MH, CH, 101 HS, HU, MC.
#13 - Just as I Am, Scarcity: C
The words to this hymn were written by Charlotte Elliott (1789-1871) in 1834 and first appeared in The Invalid's Hymn Book in 1836. She was the daughter of an Anglican clergyman in Brighton, England, and wrote dozens of hymns while confined to her bed for many years. The tune dates from 1849 and was composed by William B. (Batchelder) Bradbury (1816-1868). Bradbury, the grandson of John Bradbury, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, was born in Maine and as a young man moved to Boston, where he studied at the Boston Academy of Music, founded and directed by Lowell Mason (see notes to cob #2), and also sang in a church choir under the direction of Mason, who became his close friend and mentor. He later moved to New York City, where he organized free singing classes which led to the teaching of music in the public schools there. He also began publishing collections of hymns for use in Sunday schools and they were such a commercial success that, within seven years, he was able to take his family on a two-year European tour. In 1854 he further expanded his financial interest in the popularization of the singing of hymns by acquiring, with his brother, an interest in a piano manufacturing firm that later became the Bradbury Piano Company. Eleven hymn collections (generally pocket size books that sold for 25 cents each) published by his publishing business, the William B. Bradbury Company, from the time of its founding in 1861 until his death reportedly sold over three million copies. His most famous hymn tune is the Sunday school favorite, “Jesus Loves Me”, which, oddly enough, did not appear on the roller organ (Cob #750, which is titled “Jesus Loves Me”, contains a different tune, “Belmont” (see notes to cob #63)). “Just As I Am” is still widely used, especially for altar calls at evangelical meetings like those of the late Reverend Billy Graham. References: GH #682, MH #198, 101HS, MC, HU.
#14 - America, Scarcity: VC
Samuel F. Smith, D.D. (1808-1895), a Baptist minister and productive hymnwriter, was born in Boston and wrote the words to “My Country 'Tis of Thee” in 1832, the year he graduated from Andover Theological Seminary. He reportedly jotted down the words on a scrap of waste paper and completed the hymn within about half an hour. The composer of the tune (which was also used for the British anthem “God Save the King/Queen”) was the English poet and dramatist Henry Carey (c. 1690-1743), according to Carey's posthumous son, George Savile Carey (1743-1807); other works say “music of unknown origin”. Smith selected the tune from a song book provided to him by Lowell Mason (see notes to cob #2) and the hymn was first sung at a children's Fourth of July service at Park Street Church in Boston. The tune also appears on the Grand roller organ coupled with “The Star Spangled Banner” on cob #2071, and by itself on cob #2104, one of the “Masonic” cobs. References: GH #738, MH #489, CL, 101HS, MC, GD, IS, HU.
#15 - Antioch, Scarcity: LC
This is the first of the scarce and coveted Christmas carol cobs on the roller organ. The words are a paraphrase of Psalm 98 in verse by the extremely prolific British hymn writer Isaac Watts (1674-1748) and date from 1719. The music, adapted from “The Messiah” (1742) by George Frederick Handel (1685-1789), was arranged to fit Watts' poem by Lowell Mason (1792-1872) in 1830 (see notes to cob #2). The tune also appears on Grand roller organ cob #3017. References: GH #606, MH #89, CL, 101HS, HU, MC.
#16 - O to be Over Yonder, Scarcity: LC
The words to this hymn were written by Florence C. (Catherine) Armstrong, who was born in County Sligo, Ireland in 1843, but about whom very little additional information appears to be available. The music was by George C. (Coles) Stebbins (1846-1945), a composer of many hymn tunes who served as music director at the Clarendon Street Baptist Church in Boston and was associated with Moody and Sankey, Major Whittle and other evangelists. After P.P. Bliss' death in 1876, Stebbins worked with James McGranahan and Sankey in compiling volumes 3-6 of the Gospel Hymns series, the contents of which were combined with those of volumes 1-2 to form GH. References: GH #266, CH, 101HS.
#17 - What Hast Thou Done for Me, Scarcity: LC
Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879), an Englishwoman and the daughter of an Anglican clergyman, reportedly was inspired to write the words to this hymn in 1859 after seeing a painting of the crucifixion in Germany with an inscription below it that read “This have I done for thee; what hast thou done for me?” She jotted down the words quickly on the back of a circular and was about to throw it into the fire but held it back at the last minute. The music, by P.P. (Philip Paul) Bliss (1838-1876) (see notes to cob #12), first appeared in a hymn collection of his, Sunshine for Sunday Schools, published in 1873. References: GH #600, MH, 101HS, HU.
#18 - He Leadeth Me, Scarcity: C
Joseph H. (Henry) Gilmore (1834-1918), a Boston-born Baptist pastor and professor, hurriedly wrote the words to this very popular Sunday school hymn in 1862 after preaching a sermon on the 23rd Psalm, and his wife submitted his poem to a publication called The Watchman and Reflector. Three years later, Gilmore was surprised to find it included in a hymnal at a church he visited. William B. (Batchelder) Bradbury (1816-1868)(see notes to cob #13) had seen the poem in print, had written music to go with it and had added the final words of the chorus, and it appeared in his collection The Golden Censer in 1864. References: GH #637, MH #242, 101HS, HU.
#19 - I Love to tell The Story, Scarcity: C
This is another Sunday school favorite. The words were written in 1866 by Kate (Arabella Katherine) Hankey (1834-1911), a well-to-do Londoner with a strong interest in evangelism. Although Miss Hankey had also composed a tune to go with her words, in 1869 William G. (Gustavus) Fischer (1835-1912), a Philadelphia musician, teacher, song leader and piano dealer, composed the tune now used for the hymn and added the refrain. References: GH #30, MH #249, 101HS, HU.
#20 - The Home over There, Scarcity: C
According to the Internet website www.cyberhymnal.org (CH), the author of the words to this once popular but now forgotten hymn was the Reverend DeWitt Clinton Huntington (1830-1912), a Methodist minister who was born in Vermont and ultimately became Chancellor of Nebraska Wesleyan University, and the music was composed by Tullius C. (Clinton) O'Kane (also 1830-1912), an Ohio-born educator who later worked for the Phillip Phillips Piano Company (see notes to cob #8) and for the Smith American Organ Company as a traveling salesman. The hymn dates from about 1873. References: GH #54, CH.
#21 - Is My Name Written There, Scarcity: C
This pretty old-fashioned hymn is seldom heard today. The words were written by Mary A. (Ann Pepper) Kidder (1820-1905), a Methodist, who was born in Boston and lived in New York City for many years. According to CH, the music was composed in 1876 by Frank M. (Marion) Davis (1839-1896), who was born in upstate New York and taught voice and instrumental classes in a number of locales. References: GH #209, JD, CH.
#22 - Almost Persuaded, Scarcity: C
This powerful-sounding hymn shows off the roller organ well. The words and music were written by P.P. (Philip Paul) Bliss (1838-1876) (see notes to cobs #12 and 27). It first appeared in a collection called The Charm (1871) and was often used by Ira Sankey at evangelical meetings. The tune is somewhat similar to #86, “More Love to Thee, O Christ”, and could conceivably be mistaken for it. References: GH #569, IS, JD.
#23 - Where is My Boy To-night, Scarcity: VC
Although this tune appears among the hymns, it is in waltz time and sounds more like a popular song. It is the tear-jerking lament of a mother whose son has fallen into vice and would have been sung in redemption services at Skid Row missions a century or more ago. One can picture the sobbing during the singing of the final verse, which reads “Go for my wandering boy to-night; Go search for him for him where you will; But bring him to me with all his blight; And tell him I love him still”. Both words and music were written in 1877 by Rev. Robert Lowry (1826-1899), the prominent Baptist minister and hymnbook editor (see notes to cob #3). References: GH #631, MH, JD.
#24 - Bringing in The Sheaves, Scarcity: VC
According to CH, the words to this simple country hymn were written in 1874 by Knowles Shaw (1834-1878), who was born in Ohio and met his death at an early age in a train wreck like his almost exact contemporary, P.P. Bliss (see notes to cob #27), and the music was composed in 1880 by George A. (Austin) Minor (1845-1904), of Richmond, Virginia, a Civil War veteran and Baptist Sunday School superintendent who was a music teacher and conductor and founder of a piano and organ company. References: GH #609, CH.
#25 - Let the Lower Lights be Burning, Scarcity: C
This may be the best-known hymn of P.P. (Philip Paul) Bliss (1838-1876) to survive in use down to the present day. He wrote both the words and music. The words were based on a story used in a sermon by evangelist Dwight L. Moody about a ship that crashed on the rocks in Lake Erie because the lights along the shore were out, even though light was visible from the lighthouse; hence, we are reminded that we must keep our “lower lights” burning to guide others along the way. This hymn also appeared on the Grand roller organ as cob # 3010. References: GH #45, MH #254, 101MHS.
#26 - Only an Armor Bearer, Scarcity: LC
This is another hymn by P.P. (Philip Paul) Bliss (1838-1876) in which the evangelical Christian is likened to a soldier in battle. In this case the reference is to an incident in I Samuel 14 in which Jonathan and his armour bearer achieved a victory over the Philistines when trusting in God. The hymn appeared in a collection called Sunshine (1873). The tune also appeared on the Grand roller organ as cob #3009. References: GH #50, JD.
#27 - I Will Sing of My Redeemer, Scarcity: C
When the roller organ was invented, the tragic death of P.P. (Philip Paul) Bliss (1838-1876) in a train wreck at Ashtabula, Ohio was a recent memory. The railway bridge collapsed and the train fell sixty feet into a ravine and, although Bliss survived the wreck, he died in the fire that followed because he refused to leave the side of his wife, who was trapped in the wreckage. The evangelist Major Daniel W. Whittle (see notes to cob #9) met James McGranahan (1840-1907) for the first time at the scene, and together they found Bliss' trunk, which contained the words Bliss had written to this hymn. McGranahan composed the tune to accompany them and, as it turned out, replaced Bliss as Major Whittle's song leader. The hymn appeared for the first time in the 1877 hymn collection Welcome Tidings, compiled by Robert Lowry (see notes to cob #3), William H. Doane (see notes to cob #30) and Ira D. Sankey. References: GH #577, 101HS.
#28 - He Will Hide Me, Scarcity: LC
The author of the words to this hymn was Miss M. E. Servoss, who was born in Schenectady, New York, but about whom very little additional information is known. CH gives her full name as Mary Elizabeth Servoss and reports the year of her birth as 1849. The tune was composed by James McGranahan (1840-1907) (see notes to cob #27) and the hymn appeared in Ira D. Sankey's famous collection Sacred Songs and Solos. References: GH #119, JD, CH, 101HS.
#29 - Pull for the Shore, Scarcity: C
This is still another hymn the words and music of which were written by P.P. (Philip Paul) Bliss (1838-1876). The words refer to an incident reported by Ira Sankey in which a ship's crew was rescued by a life boat. As in “Let the Lower Lights Be Burning”, Bliss likened the sinner to a sailor lost at sea. The hymn is also known as “The Life-Boat” and appeared in the 1872 collection The Song Tree. References: GH #51, JD.
#30 - Precious Name, Scarcity: C
The words to this hymn were written in 1870 by Lydia Baxter (1809-1874), who was born in Petersburg, New York and lived for many years in New York City. Like Charlotte Elliott (see notes to cob #13), she was a bed-ridden invalid with a strong interest in evangelical work, and her home was a meeting place for many prominent religious leaders of the day. The music was composed by William H. (Howard) Doane (1832-1915) and the hymn first appeared in the 1871 collection Pure Gold for the Sunday School, compiled by Doane and Rev. Robert Lowry (see notes to cob #3). Like Lowry, P.P. Bliss, James McGranahan, Lowell Mason and others, Doane's name appears repeatedly as composer of roller organ hymns, especially as a collaborator with the well-known and extraordinarily prolific hymnwriter Fanny Crosby (1820-1915) (see notes to cob #72). Doane, from Preston, Connecticut, was a prominent Baptist layman and Sunday school superintendent in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he was employed by a company that manufactured woodworking machinery of which he eventually became President. He composed over 2,000 hymn tunes, participated in the preparation of more than 40 hymn collections, was associated with Dwight L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey in their evangelistic work and left a large fortune which was used for religious causes such as the erection of the Doane Memorial Music Building at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. References: GH #47, MH #253, 101MHS, HU.
#31 - Christmas, Scarcity: C
This is the second of the small number of Christmas carols that appeared on the roller organ and, as such, the cob is considered a desirable one. The tune is from classical composer George Frederick Handel (1685-1759) and the words, “While Shepherds Watched their Flocks By Night”, are even older. They were written by onetime poet laureate of England Nahum Tate (1652-1715), an Irishman who, with Nicholas Brady (1659-1726), prepared a metrical version of the Psalms in 1696 known as the New Version which was used by the Church of England and later by the American Episcopal Church. The words to this hymn appeared in a supplement to the New Version published in 1700. References: GH #693, MH #88, 101HS, MC.
#32 - Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, Scarcity: C
This is another Christmas carol and, as such, another particularly desirable cob. The words were written in 1739 by Charles Wesley (1707-1788), who was the author of literally thousands of hymns and was the brother of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. They appeared in altered form in a hymn collection published in 1753 by the great Methodist preacher, George Whitefield (1714-1770), and have come down to us in this form. The music was adapted by William H. (Haymen (MH, MC) or Hayman (HU)) Cummings (1831-1915), an English scholar and musician, from a piece of music by classical composer Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809-1847) called “Festgesang” which Mendelssohn composed in 1840 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of printing. References: MH #86, 101MHS, HU, MC.
#33 - Harwell, Scarcity: LC
Like many of the hymn tunes on the roller organ identified by a one-word tune name, this tune is usually associated with one particular set of words, “Hark! Ten Thousand Harps and Voices”, dating from 1806 and written by Thomas Kelly (1769-1855). The son of an Irish judge, Kelly attended Trinity College, Dublin, originally planning a career in the law, but instead became an Anglican priest and, subsequently, a dissenter. He wrote hundreds of hymns. The tune is by Lowell Mason (1792-1872) (see notes to cob #2) and dates from 1840. References: MH #167, MC, HU.
#34 - Hendon, Scarcity: LC
This tune is associated with two familiar hymns, “Ask Ye What Great Thing I Know” (Johann C. Schwedler (1672-1730); alternate translations by Rev. J. S. B. (John Samuel Bewley) Monsell (1811-1875)(GH #731) and Benjamin H. Kennedy (1804-1889)(MH #147)) and “Take My Life and Let It Be” (Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879), 1874; 101HS; see notes to cob #17). It was composed in 1823 by Cesar H. A. (Henri Abraham) Malan (1787-1864), a Swiss pastor who was expelled from the established Reformed Church, became a leader in the evangelical movement and traveled widely. It was subsequently harmonized by American hymn composer Lowell Mason (see notes to cob #2) and appeared in 1841 in his Carmina Sacra. Additional reference: HU.
#35 - Manoah, Scarcity: LC
This tune is also associated with two familiar hymns, “Jerusalem my Happy Home” (anonymous; GH #380), and “Walk in the Light! So Shalt Thou Know” (Bernard Barton (1784-1849), MH #378). It has been suggested that it might have come from either of two classical composers, Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)(GH) and Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868)(HH). It appeared in Greatorex's Collection of hymns in 1851 (compiled by Henry W. (Wellington) Greatorex (1811-1858)). Additional references: MC, 101MHS, 1905 Methodist hymnal.
#36 - Pleyel's Hymn, Scarcity: LC
This majestic hymn tune was composed in 1790 by Austrian-born Ignace Joseph Pleyel (1757-1831). Pleyel, the twenty-fourth child of a schoolmaster and the favorite pupil of Haydn, was a music dealer and publisher and a piano manufacturer as well as a classical composer and conductor. Probably the most familiar words associated with the tune are “Children of the Heavenly King” (John Cennick (1718-1755), 1742). It is also used as a processional during the Third Degree in Freemasonry and appears among the “Masonic” hymns on the Grand roller organ as cob #2108. References: GH #714, MH #326, CL, HU, MC.
#37 - Zion, Scarcity: S
This tune dates from 1830 and was composed by Dr. Thomas Hastings (1784-1872), a prominent Connecticut-born choirmaster. Hastings was an albino who suffered from severe eye problems but nevertheless wrote more than 1,000 hymn tunes and was a collaborator with Lowell Mason (see notes to cob #2). One set of familiar words associated with the tune is “Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy”, variously attributed to Joseph Hart (1712-1768; 1759), a London Congregational minister (HU, MC), and John Newton (1725-1807)(GH #670), who is best remembered for writing the words to what is today one of the most widely-heard hymns, “Amazing Grace” (the tune to which for some reason did not appear on the roller organ). Newton was a slave trader who underwent a dramatic conversion when he was in his early 20s, subsequently became an Anglican pastor and wrote hundreds of hymns. Additional references: CH, 101HS, 101MHS.
#38 - Warwick, Scarcity: S
This tune dates from the 1790s and was composed by Samuel Stanley (1767-1822), who served as a song leader at local chapels in Birmingham, England and also played the violoncello with the Birmingham Theatre orchestra. The words most commonly associated with it were “Amazing Grace” by Rev. John Newton (1725-1807) (see notes to previous cob), but it is not the very familiar tune now always heard with those words. References: GH #680, CH, MH.
#39 - Abide With Me, Scarcity: LC
The words to this deathbed hymn were written reportedly near the end of his life (although some authorities say earlier (MC, HL)) by Henry F. (Francis) Lyte (1793-1847), an Anglican clergyman who was born near Kelso, Scotland, attended Trinity College, Dublin and served as pastor in a small fishing village in Devonshire for 23 years, during which he wrote over 80 hymns. The tune was composed for Lyte's words in 1861 by William H. (Henry) Monk (1823-1889), a choirmaster and organist who was music editor of the Anglican Church hymnal Hymns Ancient and Modern, which appeared in that year. Additional references: GH #317, MC, 101HS, 101MHS.
#40 - Dennis, Scarcity: LC
The words most commonly used with this familiar hymn tune are “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”, by Rev. John Fawcett (1740-1817). Fawcett was born in Yorkshire, England, was converted at the age of 16, became a Baptist minister, and served a poor congregation in Wainsgate in Yorkshire for over 50 years. The hymn was one of 166 of his poems published as a collection in 1782. The tune was by Hans G. (Georg) Naegeli (1773(?)-1836), a Swiss music publisher. American hymn composer Lowell Mason (1792-1872) (see notes to cob #2) acquired the tune from Naegeli while traveling in Switzerland in 1837 and arranged it for inclusion in The Psaltery, a work he edited in 1845 with George J. Webb (1803-1887; see notes to cob #48). References: GH #712, MH #416, 101HS, MC, HU.
#41 - I Hear Thy Welcome Voice, Scarcity: LC
Hearing this beautiful old hymn tune makes one wonder why certain hymns have survived in use down to the present day while others, like this one, are now forgotten. Both the words and music were written by Lewis Hartsough. According to CH, Hartsough (1828-1919), a Methodist minister, was born in Ithaca, New York, attended Cazenovia Seminary, also in upstate New York, and was ordained in 1853. He subsequently held positions in Utah and Wyoming before serving as a pastor in Iowa beginning in 1871 and he wrote this hymn in 1872. Ira Sankey included it in Sacred Songs and Solos and Dwight L. Moody and Sankey used it as an invitation hymn at evangelical meetings in England and Scotland. Additional references: GH #595, IS.
#42 - Even Me, Scarcity: LC
The words to this hymn were written in 1860 by Mrs. Elizabeth (Harris) Codner (1824-1919), the wife of an Anglican clergyman who served at a mission in the north end of London. Its reference to “showers of blessing” was inspired by her reading Ezekiel 34:26. William B. Bradbury (1816-1868; see notes to cob #18) composed the tune to go with the words in 1862 and the hymn first appeared that year in his Golden Shower of Sunday School Melodies, one of 59 collections Bradbury published between 1841 and 1867. References: GH #639, MH, 101MHS.
#43 - Watchman, Tell Us of the Night, Scarcity: LC
The author of the words to this hymn, Sir John Bowring (1792-1872), was accomplished in a number of areas: he was an expert linguist, reportedly able to converse in 100 languages and read 200, an author and a financier, and he served two terms in the British House of Commons and was onetime governor of Hong Kong. He also wrote a number of poems and hymns. This one dates from 1825. Lowell Mason (1792-1872)(see notes to cob #2) composed the tune in 1830. References: MH #485, 101HS, MC, HU.
#44 - St. Martin's, Scarcity: LC
This relatively obscure hymn tune was composed by William Tansur (1700 (1706?)-1783), an English psalmist and bookseller. There are no familiar words associated with it, but MH, for example, linked the tune with both “Come, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove” (MH #172), by the very productive English hymn writer Isaac Watts (1674-1748), and “Come, Let Us Use the Grace Divine” (MH #540), by the equally prolific Charles Wesley (1707-1788; see notes to cob #32). Although it is not an easily singable hymn, Ira Sankey, in his memoirs, listed it as one of three hymn tunes (the others being “Belmont” (cob #63) and “Coronation” (cob #741)) he could correctly sing by the time he was about eight years old. Additional References: HU, MC, IS.
#45 - Federal Street, Scarcity: LC
The composer of this tune, which dates from 1832, was Henry K. (Kemble) Oliver (1800-1885), a schoolteacher and church organist in the Boston area who also served as mayor of both Salem and Lawrence, Massachusetts and as the Massachusetts State Treasurer during the Civil War years. Oliver was still another student of Lowell Mason (see notes to cob #2). Federal Street was the street in Salem, Massachusetts where Oliver lived. This is another tune that is not linked with any one especially familiar set of words. “Behold a Stranger at the Door” (GH #450) and “Jesus, and Shall It Ever Be” (MH #258), both by Rev. Joseph Grigg (c. 1720-1768, 1765), a Presbyterian pastor in London, are sung to the tune, as is “My Dear Redeemer and my Lord”, by Isaac Watts (1674-1748), 1709. Additional References: CL, CH, MC.
#46 - Hursley, Scarcity: LC
This tune is associated primarily with the hymn “Sun of my Soul, Thou Saviour Dear”, by Anglican cleric John Keble (1792-1866), who attended Oxford and became a professor of poetry there before beginning his 31 years of service as pastor at the parish church of Hursley. The hymn first appeared in a very popular collection of his poems first published in 1827 entitled The Christian Year. The tune had been included in the Katholisches Gesangbuch (“Catholic Songbook”), c. 1774. When Keble chose it to accompany his words, he named it “Hursley” after the parish he served. The tune is also used with the words “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name” (see notes to cob #758) and another version of it appears on cob #724 (“Ambrosia Hymn”). References: GH #674, MH #56, MC, 101 HS, HU.
#47 - Mozart, Scarcity: LC
This tune by the classical composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), nicely arranged for the roller organ, is not linked with the words to any familiar hymn.
#48 - Webb, Scarcity: LC
This is a beautiful arrangement of the tune associated with the very popular hymn “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus”, the words to which were written in 1858 by George Duffield, Jr. (1818-1888), who served as pastor of the Temple Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia as well as of many other churches in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Michigan. The tune is also used for the hymn “The Morning Light is Breaking”, the words to which were written in 1832 by Samuel F. Smith (1808-1895), who also wrote the words to “America” (“My Country 'Tis of Thee”) in the same year (see notes to cob #14). The tune was composed in 1837 by George J. (James) Webb (1803-1887) and was named for him. Webb emigrated from England to Boston in 1830 and served as organist at the Old South Church there for many years. He was also a professor at the Boston Academy of Music, where he was associated with Lowell Mason (see notes to cob #2). References: GH #615, MH #487, CL, 101HS, HU.
#49 - Bowen, Scarcity: LC
According to CH, this very pretty hymn tune was written by the Austrian classical composer Franz Josef Haydn (1732-1809). It is another hymn tune which is not associated with any familiar set of words.
#50 - Geneva, Scarcity: LC
By its name, one would expect that this tune might be of Swiss origin, but I have been unable to find any information about it. Todd Augsburger located it in the online Harmonia Sacra Handbook, in which it is attributed to John Cole (1774-1855) and listed as having appeared in his Ecclesiastical Harmony (1805).
#51 - St. Catharine, Scarcity: S
The tune on this cob is not the familiar tune, “St. Catherine”, used for the popular hymn “Faith of Our Fathers”, by Frederick W. Faber (1814-1863), 1849 (see notes to cob #60), nor is it the tune of the same name by Reginald Dole, 1861, that also appears in CH. It is a different tune named “St. Catharine”, and I have not located it in any hymnal.
#52 - Luton, Scarcity: LC
This is still another pretty but obscure hymn tune which is not associated with any familiar set of words. According to CH, it dates from 1774 and its composer was London-born George Burder (1752-1832), an engraver by trade who served as pastor in several locations in England and was also involved in missionary and tract societies.
#53 - Brownell, Scarcity: S
According to CH (which refers to the tune as “Brownwell”), this is another hymn tune by the Austrian classical composer Franz Josef Haydn (1732-1809).
#54 - Hummel, Scarcity: S
This hymn tune was composed by Heinrich C. (Christoph) Zeuner (1795-1857 (1875?)), who was born in Germany, emigrated to Boston and later relocated to Philadelphia, where he served as organist for a number of churches. Several hymns are associated with this tune, but none are familiar ones. Reference: CH, PH.
#55 - Paradise, Scarcity: LC
Although there are a number of hymn tunes with the name “Paradise”, I have been unable to locate, in any hymnal, the tune of that name that appears on this cob. I do have a copy of this cob which was mislabeled, presumably at the Autophone factory, with a label for cob #65. Imagine the original purchaser's surprise when he first played the cob he expected would be “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and heard, instead, this pretty but unfamiliar tune!
#56 - Wilson, Scarcity: S
This hymn tune is an arrangement of a piece by the classical composer Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809-1847). It appears in the 1905 Methodist hymnal with the words “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus”, which are now more commonly sung to the Welsh hymn tune “Hyfrydol” (which did not appear on the roller organ).
#57 - Repose, Scarcity: S
This is another hymn tune which is so pretty and appealing that it makes one wonder why it has not survived in use down to the present day. It appears in GH as #466 with the words “Quiet, Lord, my Froward Heart” and the notation “Arr. from F. Kucken”. “F. Kucken” is undoubtedly Friedrich Wilhelm Kucken (1810-1882), a German classical composer whose songs and duets were at one time very popular, even outside Germany. The words are attributed to “J. Newton”, who is very likely John Newton (1725-1807), the onetime slave trader who underwent a dramatic conversion and is also the author of the words to “Amazing Grace” (see notes to cobs #37, 38). The first copy of cob #57 I obtained had been in a fire and was charred black and slightly swollen but still played perfectly, attesting to the amazing durability of roller organ cobs. Reference: GD.
#58 - In the Silent Midnight Watches, Scarcity: LC
The words to this simple hymn were written by Rev. A. (Arthur) Cleveland Coxe (1818-1896), an Episcopal clergyman who became Bishop of Western New York in 1865 and wrote a great deal of both poetry and prose. The tune was written by Hubert P. (Platt) Main (1839-1925), a very prolific writer of hymn tunes and avid collector of books relating to music, who worked in William Bradbury's hymn book publishing house beginning in 1867 (see notes to cob #13) and whose publishing firm, Biglow & Main, became the successor to Bradbury's after his death the following year. References: GH #93, HU.
#59 - Portuguese Hymn, Scarcity: LC
This tune dates from the 18th century and is used for the Latin Christmas hymn of unknown authorship “Adeste Fideles” (and its English translation, “O Come All Ye Faithful”) as well as for the hymn “How Firm a Foundation”. The tune appeared in John F. (Francis) Wade's collection Cantus Diversi in 1751, where its source was listed as “Anonymous”. The words to “How Firm A Foundation” are also of uncertain authorship and appeared with just the initial “K” for the author in the formerly very popular and often reprinted 1787 collection A Selection of Hymns from the Best Authors by John Rippon (1751-1836), a Baptist pastor in London and expert on the hymns of Isaac Watts. References: GH #613, MH #96, CL, CH, HU, MC.
#60 - Wellesley, Scarcity: LC
This is another hymn tune that is associated with just one familiar set of words, “There's a Wideness in God's Mercy”, by Frederick W. (William) Faber (1814-1863), 1854. Faber was an Anglican clergyman in England who had been influenced by the Oxford Movement, which promoted emphasis on ceremony and liturgy in the Anglican church, and he ultimately converted to Roman Catholicism and became known as “Father Wilfred”. He wrote 150 hymns after his conversion including this one which, in its original version, had 13 stanzas. The tune was written by Lizzie S. (Shove) Tourjee (later Estabrook) (1858-1913) when she was still in her teens and was included with Faber's words in the 1878 Methodist Hymnal. Her father, Dr. Eben Tourjee, was founder of the New England Conservatory of Music and one of the hymnal's editors. He named the tune “Wellesley” after the college she attended. References: GH #541, MH #76, 101MHS, MC, HU.
#61 - Rathbun, Scarcity: LC
The hymn tune “Rathbun” is associated with the words “In the Cross of Christ I Glory”, written in 1825 by Sir John Bowring (1792-1872), reportedly after seeing a large cross on a fire-gutted cathedral on the South China coast. Although Bowring was a very accomplished person in his day (see notes to cob #43), he is now remembered primarily for this hymn, the opening line of which is inscribed on his tombstone. The tune is by Ithamar Conkey (1815-1867), who was organist and choir director at the Central Baptist Church in Norwalk, Connecticut when he composed it in 1849. He wrote the tune rather quickly one afternoon for use at an evening service and named it for a Mrs. Rathbun, the one member of his choir who showed up on that particular day. References: GH #698, MH #149, 101HS, HU, HL, MC.
#62 - Come Ye Disconsolate, Scarcity: LC
Thomas Moore (1779-1852), the Irish poet who wrote the lyrics and composed the tunes to a number of non-religious songs on the roller organ (basing them on ancient Irish harp tunes) (see notes to cobs #149, 165 and 186), also wrote the words to the first two stanzas of “Come Ye Disconsolate” as they originally appeared. Thomas Hastings (1784-1872) (see notes to cob #37) substantially rewrote these stanzas and added a third stanza of his own, and his revised version appeared in the 1831 collection Spiritual Songs for Social Worship, edited by Hastings and Lowell Mason (see notes to cob #2). The tune, which Hastings used with his version of the hymn, is by Samuel Webbe (1740-1816) and dates from 1792. Webbe served as organist at Roman Catholic churches in London and published a number of collections of music for Catholic worship. References: GH #661, MH #312, 101MHS.
#63 - Belmont, Scarcity: LC
This beautiful hymn tune appeared in 1812 in Sacred Melodies, by William Gardiner (1770-1853), a massive work in which Gardiner sought to acquaint the English people with the great composers of the day, including Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven, all of whom he had met. Gardiner inherited a hosiery business and was able to pursue both a commercial career and his love for music. This is one of the three tunes Ira Sankey noted in his memoirs that he was able to sing correctly by the age of eight. Although a number of different sets of words have been linked with the tune, the best-known words are derived from the 23rd Psalm (“The Lord's my Shepherd, I'll Not Want”, by Samuel Stennett (1727-1795), a prominent Baptist pastor and writer in London). The tune also appears on cob #750 (in a different key and with a different pin configuration) under the title “Jesus Loves Me”. This is a mystery, since the popular Sunday School hymn of that name is sung to a completely different tune by William Bradbury that did not appear on the roller organ and I have found no references to another hymn of that name sung to the tune “Belmont”. References: GH #678, MH, 101HS, MC, HU.
#64 - Finnish National Hymn, Scarcity: LC
Although Jan Sibelius' “Finlandia” is much more familiar to Americans, this tune by Fredrik Pacius, 1848, with words by Johan Ludvig Runeberg, 1846, is still the Finnish national hymn. Reference: Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland website, “Virtual Finland - Your Window on Finland” (www.virtual.finland.fi).
#65 - What a Friend we have in Jesus, Scarcity: MC
This is another of the most common cobs on the roller organ. The tune was written in 1868 by Charles C. (Crozat) Converse (1832-1918), who is remembered as a composer of secular as well as religious music. Converse was a lawyer in Erie, Pennsylvania who composed under many pen names. In his early years he was associated with William Bradbury (see notes to cob #13) and Ira Sankey in compiling and editing hymn books. He later studied in Europe at the Leipzig Conservatory, where he knew classical composers Franz Liszt and Louis Spohr. The words were written by Joseph Scriven (1820-1886), who was born in Ireland, was educated at Trinity College there, and emigrated to Canada at the age of 25 after his fiancee drowned the night before their planned wedding. He lived in Port Hope, Ontario and was a true eccentric, giving away his possessions freely and cutting wood and performing other manual labor for the poor and unfortunate. He wrote the hymn to comfort his mother back in Ireland when she was ill and he did not intend it for publication. After his death (also by drowning), the citizens of Port Hope erected a monument to him with the words to this hymn inscribed on it, which says that it was written in 1857. In 1875, Ira Sankey included the hymn at the last minute in Volume 1 of Gospel Hymns, the first portion of the collection ultimately published as GH, and the hymn immediately became very popular. References: GH #583, MH #240, 101HS, HU, IS.
#66 - Church, Scarcity: LC
According to CH, this obscure hymn tune was composed by Joseph P. (Perry) Holbrook (1822-1888), about whom little appears to be known. Although it has been used with a number of different sets of words, none of them are familiar.
#67 - Rock of Ages, Scarcity: VC
The cob containing this venerable and very familiar hymn was another very common one. The words were written in 1776 by an Anglican clergyman, Augustus M. (Montague) Toplady (1740-1778), a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, who was a staunch Calvinist and opponent of his contemporaries, the Wesleys. There is a tradition (that in fact apparently postdates Toplady's death by many years) that he wrote the words on a stormy day after seeking refuge under a cleft of limestone rock. The tune was composed much later, in 1830, for these words by the American hymn composer, Dr. Thomas Hastings (1784-1872) (see notes to cob #37), and the hymn appeared in Spiritual Songs for Social Worship (1831), edited by Hastings and Lowell Mason (see notes to cob #2). The rhythm was later altered in Mason's Sabbath Hymn and Tune Book (1859). References: GH #21, MH #204, 101HS, MC, HU.
#68 - Sweet Hour of Prayer, Scarcity: C
This is another well-known and well-loved hymn and the cob was again a very popular one. The words are attributed to Rev. William W. Walford (1772-1850), a blind lay preacher in England, and were published in the New York Observer in 1845. William B. Bradbury (1816-1868) (see notes to cob #18) wrote the tune to accompany the words in 1861 and the hymn first appeared that year in a Bradbury hymn collection called The Golden Chain. References: GH # 634, MH #302, 101MHS, HU.
#69 - Beautiful Valley of Eden, Scarcity: LC
This pretty but now forgotten hymn tune was composed in 1877 by William F. (Fisk (101HS, HH) or Fiske (MC, HU)) Sherwin (1826-1888), a professor who served as music director at Chautauqua, the Victorian-era Methodist summer colony in upstate New York which provided the name for the Chautauqua roller organ, which was, presumably, used there. Sherwin, himself a Baptist, studied under Lowell Mason and was on the faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. The words are by Massachusetts-born William O. (Orcutt) Cushing (1823-1902), a Disciples of Christ pastor who worked closely with Ira D. Sankey, Robert Lowry and their contemporaries and wrote several hundred hymn tunes. According to Sankey, one day in 1875 while Cushing was praying he had a vision of a heavenly country that remained until he had written down the words to this hymn. The hymn, forgotten today, must have been popular in the 1890s, because the tune is one of the few hymn tunes that also appeared on the Grand roller organ (cob #3013). References: GH #138, MH, 101 HS, 101MHS, HU, IS.
#70 - Greenville, Scarcity: LC
This tune, interestingly, was composed by the French philosopher and writer Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) and is from a 1752 opera “Le Devin du Village” (“The Village Soothsayer”). According to tradition, while sleeping he had a vision of God in Heaven surrounded by angels singing this tune and he wrote it out upon awakening. It is sometimes used with the words “Lord, Dismiss Us with Thy Blessing” by John Fawcett (1740-1817), as an alternate to “Sicilian Hymn” (cob #11), and, played more quickly, is also the tune to the American folk song “Go Tell Aunt Rhody (That the Old Grey Goose is Dead)”. References: GH #732, MH, MC, HU.
#71 - Old Hundred, Scarcity: LC
Although the doxology, “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow”, is sung to this tune in many Christian denominations, this is not a particularly common cob. The tune is very old, having appeared in the Genevan Psalter in 1551 (It is the first tune in GH, where the composer is listed as “L. Bourgeois”; Louis Bourgeois (c. 1510-1572) was a French-born Calvinist living in Geneva who was musical editor of the Psalter). “Old Hundred” refers to Psalm 100; the words to “All People That On Earth Do Dwell”, also sung to this tune, are a paraphrase of that psalm dating from the same time as the tune and attributed to Rev. William Kethe (died c. 1600), believed to be a Scotsman in exile on the Continent. The words to “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow” date from 1697 and are by Thomas Ken (1637-1711), an Anglican bishop. Additional references: MH #13, 616, 101HS, MC, HU, IS.
#72 - Pass Me Not, Scarcity: C
This hymn is the first one on the roller organ written by Fanny (Jane) Crosby (1820-1915), the extraordinary blind Methodist laywoman who wrote literally thousands of hymns, including many favorites such as “Blessed Assurance” (which, for some reason, did not find its way onto the roller organ), “All the Way My Saviour Leads Me” (cob #90), “Rescue the Perishing” (cob #91) and this one. She was educated at the New York School for the Blind and later taught there, and had large portions of the Bible committed to memory. She did not begin to write hymns until she was in her forties, encouraged by hymn composer William Bradbury (see notes to cob #13). After Bradbury's death in 1868, she was engaged by the hymnbook publishers Biglow & Main to write “three hymns a week the year round”. The music for her hymns was, as here, often contributed by William H. Doane (1832-1915), the comparably prolific Baptist layman (See notes to cob #30). Doane wrote the tune especially for Crosby's text and the hymn was published in Songs of Devotion (1870). Ira Sankey said no hymn was more popular at the Moody and Sankey revival meetings in London in 1874, at which it was sung every day. References: GH #585, MH #231, MC, IS, HH.
#73 - Jesus, Lover of My Soul, Scarcity: VC
The words to this hymn were written in 1738 by Charles Wesley (1707-1788) (see notes to cob #32), reportedly as he lay under a hedge after being beaten up by an angry mob in County Down, Ireland that opposed his ministry. Several tunes have been used with the words, including the florid Welsh tune “Aberystwyth”. The tune on the roller organ is the earlier, simple, unadorned one by Simeon B. (Butler) Marsh (1798-1875), an organist, choir director and music teacher in upstate New York, and dates from 1834. Thomas Hastings (1784-1872) (see notes to cob #37) linked the tune with the words 30 years later. MC says “there is general agreement that it is one of the greatest hymns, if not the greatest hymn, of all time”! References: GH #721, MH #338, 101HS, HU, IS, MC.
#74 - Lofsang (Song of Praise—Swedish), Scarcity: LC
#75 - Jul-Psalm (Christmas Hymn—Swedish), Scarcity: LC
#76 - Pask-Psalm (Easter Hymn—Swedish), Scarcity: LC
#77 - Midsommar-sang (Midsummer Hymn—Swedish), Scarcity: LC
This group of hymns is the first of the “ethnic” cobs on the roller organ, which included, in addition to Swedish titles, in order of first appearance, cobs identified as German (#127), Norwegian (#257), Spanish (#302), Bohemian (#710), Welsh (#1024), Polish (#1040) and Finnish (#1091), some of them religious and some of them secular. The Swedish, Norwegian and German hymns on the roller organ are similar, as a group. A number of them are very old, some dating back to as early as the 16th century. They are generally powerful, somber tunes, in some cases minor and mournful-sounding, with unusual meters, often with an odd number of lines and short lines where they would not be expected by one used to the regular meters of typical American and English hymns. Some of the tunes appear more than once on the roller organ. The tune on cob #75 is not a familiar Christmas piece (unless you are Swedish!).
#78 - Beulah Land, Scarcity: C
The words to this hymn were written by Edgar P. (Page) Stites (1836-1921), a Civil War veteran and onetime riverboat pilot who was an active Methodist layman in Cape May, New Jersey. The tune was composed by John R. (Robson (CH)) Sweney (1837-1899), who was also responsible for many other hymn tunes on the roller organ. Sweney was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania and after serving as leader of a regimental band during the Civil War was a music teacher at a number of schools and colleges, including Pennsylvania Military Academy, where he served for 25 years, and music director at a Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. He wrote over 1,000 hymn tunes and was involved in the preparation of more than 60 hymn books. The hymn was first sung at an enormous gathering of Methodists at Ocean Grove, New Jersey and immediately became very popular. Ira Sankey sang it at Sweney's funeral. References: GH #608, 101HS, 101MHS, HU, IS.
#79 - I'm a Shepherd of the Valley, Scarcity: LC
Todd Augsburger has located the words and music to this piece in an 1894 song book published by S. W. Straub & Co., where it is identified as “German”. It is clearly a song tune rather than a hymn and must have been included among the hymns because someone at the Autophone Company, seeing the word “Shepherd” in the title, assumed that this referred to Jesus Christ, so often referred to as “the Good Shepherd.”
#80 - Shall we Meet Beyond the River, Scarcity: C
This is another especially pretty hymn that has fallen into disuse. It once again involves the idea of being reunited in Heaven with departed loved ones. According to CH, the words were written in 1858 by Horace L. (Lorenzo) Hastings (1831-1899), a Massachusetts evangelist and hymn writer, and the tune was composed in 1866 by Elihu S. Rice, a Baptist Sunday school secretary and chorister, who provided the tune to Robert Lowry (see notes to cob #3). Additional reference: GH #108.
#81 - We Shall Meet Beyond the River, Scarcity: C
This hymn appeared in a collection called Bright Jewels in 1867, a year after the date of the previous hymn, and provided the answer to it. The words were written upon the death of his mother by John Atkinson (1835-1897), a Methodist minister and author who served as pastor of a number of churches, primarily in his native New Jersey but also in Michigan (Todd Augsburger located most of this information online in an Atkinson family genealogy website!). The music was composed for the words in the same year by hymn composer, compiler and publisher Hubert P. (Platt) Main (1839-1925) (see notes to cob #58). References: GH #604, MH, 101MHS, JD, IS, Winnowed Hymns, ed. McCabe and MacFarlane, Biglow & Main, 1873.
#82 - Fisk, Scarcity: S
This pretty but obscure tune appears in the 1905 Methodist Hymnal with the words “Holy Ghost, With Light Divine”, by Andrew Reed (1787-1862), an English Congregational minister. The composer was Calvin S. (Sears) Harrington (1826-1886), who, according to CH, was born in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, graduated from Wesleyan College in Middletown, Connecticut in 1852 and later served as Professor of Greek and Latin there.
#83 - Mendebras, Scarcity: LC
This tune, a German melody arranged by Lowell Mason (1792-1872) (see notes to cob #2) that appeared in his Modern Psalmist (1839), is generally associated with the words “O Day of Rest and Gladness”, by Christopher Wordsworth (1807-1885). Wordsworth, an Anglican clergyman, was the nephew of English poet William Wordsworth and a prominent scholar who wrote a biography of his famous uncle and served as Bishop of Lincoln in England. This hymn appeared in 1862 in a collection of his hymns with the title The Holy Year. References: GH #531, MH #396, 101MHS, HU.
#84 - Aletta, Scarcity: LC
This is another hymn tune that has been linked with a number of different sets of words but is not the principal tune used with any particularly familiar hymn and is not itself very familiar or well-known. It was composed by William B. Bradbury (1816-1868) (see notes to cob #13) and appeared in the collection The Jubilee in 1858. References: MH #146, 216, 101MHS, HU, MC.
#85 - I am Praying for You, Scarcity: LC
In the notes to previous cobs, we have repeatedly encountered the name of Ira D. Sankey (1840-1908) as the music director with the wonderful baritone voice associated with evangelist Dwight L. Moody and as an editor and compiler of hymn collections. He was also the composer of a number of hymn tunes, but they for the most part did not achieve great popularity and have not remained in use down to the present; his tune for “I Am Praying For You” is the only one by him that appeared on the roller organ. Sankey, a Methodist, was born in Edinburg, Pennsylvania and after serving in the Civil War was an Internal Revenue clerk. In 1870, while Sankey was attending a Y.M.C.A. convention in Indianapolis, Dwight L. Moody watched him lead singing and immediately offered him a position as his music director in Chicago. The two worked as a team thereafter, conducting revival meetings throughout the United States and in Great Britain, where Sankey's hymn book Sacred Songs and Solos was published and became widely popular. He also edited Gospel Hymns and Sacred Songs (1875), Gospel Hymns No. 2 (1876), No. 3 (1878), No. 4 (1883), No. 5 (1887) and No. 6 (1892) which were combined as GH in 1894. The words to “I Am Praying For You” were written by S. (Samuel) O'Mal(l)ey Cluff (spelled in some sources as “Clough”), who served in a number of locations as a pastor in the Church of Ireland (the Irish branch of the Anglican church). Sankey found the words in 1874 while visiting Ireland during his first trip to the British Isles with Moody and wrote the tune to go with them. The hymn became immediately popular. References: GH #589, MH #237, 101MHS, IS, HU.
#86 - More Love to Thee, O Christ, Scarcity: LC
The author of the words to this beautiful hymn was Elizabeth (Payson) Prentiss (1818-1878), the wife of a minister and professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. She wrote the hymn after losing two of her children within a short period of time during the 1850s and it was first published in leaflet form in 1869. The tune was written by William H. Doane (1832-1915) (see notes to cob #30) and the hymn was included in his 1870 hymnal, Songs of Devotion. References: GH #61, MH #364, 101MHS, HU.
#87 - Go Bury Thy Sorrow, Scarcity: LC
This is another hymn tune composed by P. P. (Philip Paul) Bliss (1838-1876) (see notes to cobs #12 and 27). It appeared in Bliss' Gospel Songs (1874) and Sankey's Sacred Songs and Solos with no listing of the author of the words, but Sankey, in his 1906 memoir My Life and Sacred Songs, attributed it to one Mary Bachelor (about whom very little is known) and said that Bliss had come across it in a newspaper. References: GH #43, JD, IS.
#88 - Whosoever Will, Scarcity: LC
This is still another hymn the words and music to which were written by the great P. P. (Philip Paul) Bliss (1838-1876) (see notes to cobs #12 and 27). It was reportedly inspired by the preaching of Henry Moorhouse, an English evangelist, on John 3:16, was written by Bliss during the winter of 1869-1870 and appeared in The Prize, a collection published in 1870 by George F. Root (see notes to cob #10). References: GH #618, HU.
#89 - Softly and Tenderly, Scarcity: LC
Will L. (Lamartine) Thompson (1847-1909) wrote both the words and music to this hymn, which, according to CH, first appeared in an 1880 collection entitled Sparkling Gems, Nos. 1 and 2 published by Thompson's own publishing company. It became a favorite for altar calls at revival meetings and is still used in that role down to the present day. Thompson, known as “The Bard of Ohio”, was born in that state and received his musical training both at the Boston Conservatory of Music and in Germany. He operated a music store as well as a music publishing business and wrote secular pieces (such as “Gathering Shells”, cob #371) as well as hymns. References: GH #324, MH #239, 101HS, HU, MC.
#90 - All the Way My Saviour Leads Me, Scarcity: LC
This pretty and powerful hymn tune was composed by Robert Lowry (1826-1899) (see notes to cob #3) and the lyrics that accompany it were written by the great Fanny J. (Jane) Crosby (1820-1915) (see notes to cob #72). It first appeared in Brightest and Best, a Sunday school collection compiled in 1875 by Lowry and William H. Doane (see notes to cob #30). References: GH #42, MH, 101HS, HU.
#91 - Rescue the Perishing, Scarcity: C
The words to this hymn were also written by Fanny J. (Jane) Crosby (1820-1915) (see notes to cob #72), reportedly after being present when a boy of 18 was rescued from a life of sin at an evangelical meeting at a Bowery mission in New York in 1869. She wrote the words in a single night and sent them to William H. (Howard) Doane (1832-1915) (see notes to cob #30), who composed the music to accompany them, and the hymn appeared in Doane's Songs of Devotion in 1870. In Ira Sankey's memoirs he tells the story of a ragged drunk hearing this hymn sung, also at a Bowery mission in new York, and turning to Christ; it turned out that he was the Captain of the Army unit in which the preacher at the mission had served. References: GH #592, MH #250, 101HS, HU, IS.
#92 - Follow On, Scarcity: LC
This is still another hymn tune composed by Baptist pastor and hymn book editor Robert Lowry (1826-1899) (see notes to cob #3). In this case the words were written in 1878 by Disciples of Christ pastor William O. (Orcutt) Cushing (1823-1902) (see notes to cob #69). According to CH, Cushing is remembered as a true Christian who gave the then-enormous sum of $1,000, his entire savings, to finance the education of a blind girl. This hymn appeared in the 1880 collection Good as Gold. References: GH #564, MH, 101MHS, IS.
#93 - Come, Great Deliverer, Come, Scarcity: LC
This is another hymn the words to which were written by the extraordinarily prolific blind hymn writer Fanny J. (Jane) Crosby (1820-1915) (see notes to cob #72) and the music to which was composed by Baptist layman and music editor William H. (Howard) Doane (1832-1915) (see notes to cob #30). References: GH #339, MH.
#94 - Jesus, Min Bäste Vän (Jesus, My Best Friend—Swedish), Scarcity: LC
#95 - Jesus, Nadens Källa (Jesus, Well of Mercy—Swedish), Scarcity: LC
#96 - Min Kärlek Star till Gud Allena (My Love to God Alone—Swedish), Scarcity: LC
#97 - Gläds, O Kristi Brud (Rejoice, O Bride of Christ—Swedish), Scarcity: LC
#98 - Paska är Kommen (Easter is Coming—Swedish), Scarcity: LC
Two additional, German versions of the tune on cob #96 appear on cob #674, “Allein Gott in der Hoh (God Alone on High—German)”, and #684, “Allein Gott in der Hoh'” (Alone on High is He—German).
#99 - Onward Go, Scarcity: S
This relatively obscure hymn appears in GH as hymn #214. The author of the words is listed merely as “E.B. Arr.” and the composer of the tune is listed as James McGranahan (1840-1907) (see notes to cob #27).
#100 - We're Marching to Jesus, Scarcity: LC
The history of this spirited hymn (the correct title of which is “We're Marching to Zion”) is interesting. The words were originally written by English hymn writer Isaac Watts (1674-1748) without the chorus and were first published in 10 stanzas in his Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Book II (1707) with the title “Heavenly Joy on Earth”. They were originally sung to a different, more traditional tune. In 1867, Robert Lowry (1826-1899) (see notes to cob #3) set the words to a more lively marching tune and added the chorus. In that form, the hymn first appeared in the collection Silver Spring (1868). References: GH #567, MH, HU.
|Scarcity ratings are based on hundreds of cob transactions and many years experience.|
|N||No known copy|
|CL||Milton Littlefield, Ed., Hymns of the Christian Life (New York, A. S. Barnes and Co., 1929)|
|CH||The Cyber Hymnal (www.cyberhymnal.org)|
|GD||H. C. Colles, Ed., Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 3rd Ed. (New York, MacMillan, 1935)|
|GH||Ira D. Sankey et al., eds., Gospel Hymns Nos. 1 to 6 Complete (New York and Chicago, The Biglow & Main Co., 1894)|
|HH||Charles S. Nutter and Wilbur F. Tillett, The Hymns and Hymn Writers of the Church: An Annotated Edition of the Methodist Hymnal (New York, etc., The Methodist Book Concern, 1911)|
|HL||Calvin W. Laufer, Hymn Lore (Philadelphia, The Westminster Press, 1932)|
|HU||Donald P. Hustad, Dictionary-Handbook to Hymns for the Living Church (Carol Stream, Illinois, Hope Publishing Co., 1978)|
|IS||Ira D. Sankey, My Life and the Story of the Gospel Hymns (New York and London, Harper & Brothers, 1907)|
|JD||John Julian, ed., A Dictionary of Hymnology (New York, Dover Publications, Reprint of 1907 ed.)|
|MC||Robert Guy McCutchan, Our Hymnody: A Manual of the Methodist Hymnal (New York, etc., The Methodist Book Concern, 1937)|
|MH||The Methodist Hymnal (New York, etc., The Methodist Publishing House, 1935)|
|101HS||Kenneth W. Osbeck, 101 Hymn Stories (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Kregel Publications, 1982)|
|101MHS||Kenneth W. Osbeck, 101 More Hymn Stories (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Kregel Publications, 1985)|
|PH||Pilgrim Hymnal (Boston, The Pilgrim Press, 1958)|