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Ira D. Sankey - Great Gospel Singer and Hymn Writer


Ira D.Sankey, 1840-1908
Ira D.Sankey, 1840-1908

Penned and Performed Awesome Hymns such as:

Just As I Am
What A Friend We Have In Jesus
Man of Sorrows
When the Roll is Called Up Yonder
Rock of Ages
Stand Up For Jesus

Biography of Ira D. Sankey

Ira David Sankey (28 August 1840 – 13 August 1908), known as The Sweet Singer of Methodism, was an American gospel singer and composer, associated with evangelist Dwight L. Moody.

Aged 16, Sankey was converted at a revival meeting at the King's Chapel (now a United Methodist Church), three miles away from his home. He served in the Civil War as a young man, later taking employment at the Internal Revenue Service, and also the YMCA. He married Fanny Victoria Edwards (1838–1910), one of his choir members, in September 1863; the couple had sons, John Sankey (1868–1912), and Ira Allan Sankey.

His increased fame as a Gospel Singer brought him to the attention of the great Evangelist, Dwight L. Moody.  When a local Pastor asked Brother Moody about the contribution that a Gospel singer and song leader such as Ira Sankey brought to his meeting, it is said that Moody replied,

"If we can only get people to have the words of the Love of God coming from their mouths it's well on its way to residing in their hearts."

Dwight Moody and Ira Sankey's visits to the United Kingdom

On June 7, 1872, Sankey and Moody made the first of several joint visits to the United Kingdom. Sankey's hymns were promoted by London Baptist preacher, Charles Spurgeon, long afterwards. While in Edinburgh, they raised £10,000 at a fundraiser to build a new home for the Carrubbers Close Mission, and the foundation was laid during their time in Edinburgh. Today, the building remains one of the few on the Royal Mile still serving its original purpose.

Carrubers Close Mission, Edinburgh Scotland
Carrubers Close Mission, Edinburgh, Scotland

The Ninety and Ninety Nine

One of his most famous hymns was said to be written whilst Dwight L Moody and Ira Sankey were in Edinburgh, Scotland:

Sankey and Moody were en route from Glasgow, Scotland to Edinburgh in May 1874, as they were to hold a three-day campaign there. This was at the urgent request of the Ministerial Association. Prior to boarding the train, Sankey bought a weekly newspaper for a penny. He found nothing of interest but a sermon by Henry Ward Beecher and some advertisements. Then, he found a little piece of poetry in a corner of one column that he liked, and he read it to Moody, but only received a polite reply. Sankey clipped the poem and tucked it in his pocket. At the noon day service of the second day of the special series, Moody preached on The Good Shepherd and asked Sankey if he had a final song. An inner voice prodded him, although there was no music to the poem, so he acquiesced. He placed the little piece of newspaper he had tucked in his pocket on the organ in front of him. Half speaking and half singing, he completed the first stanza, which was followed by four more. Moody walked over with tears in his eyes and said, "Where did you get that hymn?" The Ninety and Nine became his most famous tune and his most famous sale from that time on. The words were written by Elizabeth Clephane in 1868; she died the following year.

Hymns By Ira D.Sankey

Here are some of the hymns, composed and sung by Ira D. Sankey.  There are many great versions.  These recordings are by the Scottish Festival Singers - YouTube link here.  Here is another great link for music, Scottish Festivals of Male Voice Praise Choir - YouTube link here.

When the Roll is Called Up Yonder
Just As I Am
Man of Sorrows
What A Friend We Have In Jesus (Scottish Festivals Male Voice Choir)
Rock of Ages
Stand Up for Jesus
The Ninety and Nine (Gaither Music)

Ira D. Sankey - Hymn Writer 

15th September 2018.


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