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Hymnwriter's Story: James McGranahan


Psalm 100:2
Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.


Though desiring to study musick, McGranahan's father discouraged the ambition, needing help on the farm. At age seventeen, James hired a man to take his place and removed to Rome, Pennsylvania. There, he began studying at Bradbury's Normal Music School under professor J. G. Towner. His classmates included the son of the professor (Daniel B. Towner), P.P. Bliss, and George F. Root. McGranahan was greatly gifted and often encouraged to use his singing talents in opera, causing him to imagine "dazzling prospects of fame and fortune." Yet, he continued studying, becoming Postmaster in Rome, a position he held until the tragedy at Ashtabula, Ohio.

As news of the accident reached Rome, the Young and Bliss families asked James to travel to the wreckage and aid in identifying the remains, to which he agreed. The travel surely was restless for him: just a few days before, he had received a letter from Bliss imploring him to surrender his musical gifts to God – "Stop whetting the scythe and strike into the grain to reap for the Master!"  


Major Whittle, the evangelist with which Bliss had been labouring, traveled from Chicago to the crash site for the same purpose.
Reaching Ashtabula, the two gentlemen met for the first time. After their fruitless search, the Major asked this question: "Bliss often spoke of his desire to find a place of service for you just as he had, for it brought him such joy and satisfaction. Could it be that you should take his place with me?" The two traveled to Chicago together and, before reaching the Windy City, McGranahan surrendered all. "The operatic world lost a star that day, but the Christian world gained one of its sweetest gospel singers."

He picked up the fallen mantle, collaborating with Whittle on songs and serving as co-compiler of the Gospel Hymns volumes.


 Melody Publications’ focus is to reawaken the melody of truth in believers' hearts and minds at home and abroad. Our prayer is that our work would aid churches and families as they sing "Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs" in praise and worship to our God.

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