Indelible Grace Hymnbook

William James Kirkpatrick

Born: Feb­ru­a­ry 27, 1838, Dun­can­non, Penn­syl­van­ia.

Died: Sep­tem­ber 20, 1921, Ger­man­town, Penn­syl­vania.

Buried: Laur­el Hill Cem­e­te­ry, Phil­a­del­phia, Penn­syl­van­ia.

Pseudonym: Annie F. Bourne.

Son of a school teach­er and mu­si­cian, Kirk­pat­rick grew up in a mu­sic­al at­mo­sphere. In 1854, he went to Phil­a­del­phia, Penn­syl­van­ia, to stu­dy mu­sic and learn a trade; he spent over three years as a car­pen­ter. But he was more in­ter­est­ed in mu­sic than me­chan­ics, de­vot­ing all his lei­sure time to its stu­dy. His am­bi­tion at the time was to be­come a vi­o­lin­ist.

In 1855, Kirk­pat­rick joined the Whar­ton Street Meth­od­ist Epis­co­pal Church in Phil­a­del­phia, and from then on de­vot­ed him­self most­ly to sac­red mu­sic, giv­ing his serv­ic­es to the choir and Sun­day school. As there were few church or­gans in that day, his vi­o­lin and cel­lo were in con­stant de­mand for choir re­hears­als, sing­ing so­ci­e­ties, and church pro­grams. Dur­ing this time he wrote a num­ber of un­pub­lished hymn tunes and an­thems.

Kirkpatrick stu­died vo­cal mu­sic un­der Pro­fess­or T. Bi­shop, then a lead­ing ora­tor­io and bal­lad sing­er. He be­came a mem­ber of the Har­mon­ia and Han­del and Hay­dn Sac­red Mu­sic So­ci­e­ties, where he heard the great­est sing­ers of the day and be­came fa­mil­iar with the prin­ci­pal chor­al works of the great com­pos­ers. Kirk­pat­rick’s first pub­lished com­po­si­tion was When the Spark of Life Is Wan­ing, which ap­peared around 1858 in the Mu­sic­al Pi­o­neer in New York. He went on to pub­lish about 50 hymn col­lect­ions.

Source: The Cyber Hymnal