This week in Christian history: American Bible Society, Famous hymn-writer, Pope apology

Elisha A. Hoffman born – May 7, 1839

Elisha A. Hoffman
Elisha A. Hoffman (1839 - 1929), hymn writer. |

This week marks the anniversary of when hymn writer Elisha A. Hoffman was born in Orwigsburg, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.

A Presbyterian minister, Hoffman wrote the notable hymns “I Must Tell Jesus,” “Down at the Cross,” and “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,” among others.

According to J. H. Hall’s 1914 book Biography of Gospel Song and Hymn Writers, Hoffman’s musical talent was gained from personal experience rather than official education.

“Hoffman's first impressions of music came from hearing the voice of sacred song in the home. His parents both had sweet voices and sang well. It was their custom, in the hour of family worship, both morning and evening, to sing one or two hymns,” wrote Hall.

“Under the power of such an environment, Mr. Hoffman came to consciousness of a princely possession with which God had endowed him — the ability to express his intuitions and conceptions in meter and song.”

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