Leaning on the Everlasting Arms
DESCRIPTION: Gospel song, with chorus "Leaning on the everlasting arms." The rest is a combination of confidence in Jesus, comfort at being in fellowship with Jesus, and simple anticipation
AUTHOR: Verse Words: Elisha A. Hoffman (1839-1929) / Music and Chorus: Anthony J. Showalter (1858-1924) (Source: Warren-Spirit)
EARLIEST DATE: 1887? (see NOTES)
KEYWORDS: religious nonballad
FOUND IN: US
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Warren-Spirit, pp. 235-236, "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" (1 text, 1 tune)
Darling-NAS, pp. 260-261, "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" (1 text)
Irene Spain Family, "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" (OKeh 45322, 1929)
NOTES: At first glance, and even at second glance, this looks like just another gospel song. I don't know of any reason to think it's any more traditional than any other church hymn. But it has achieved a certain popularity with folk revival singers, so it's here.
Warren-Spirit says that the music and chorus words of this were composed in 1888 by Showalter as a comfort to two friends who had lost their wives; he asked Hoffman to compose the verses. But Warren-Spirit also says that the song was published in 1887. An interesting trick, that.... Since other sources also say it was published in 1887 (in Showalter, Evilsizer, and Perry, The Glad Evangel for Revival, Camp, and Evagelistic Meetings), I've put that year as the Earliest Date.
William Reynolds, Companion to Baptist Hymnal, Broadman Press, 1976, p. 338, says that Elisha A. Hoffman was born in Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania, and went to school in Philadelphia, then attended the Evangelical Association's Union Seminary. Ordained into the Evangelical Association, he eventually became pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Benton Harbor, Michigan. He wrote a number of hymn texts, although few seem to have become well-known.
On p. 426, Reynolds says that Showalter was born in ROckingham County, Virginia in 1858, and studied under George F. Root among others. His first music book was published in 1880. He moved to Georgia in 1884 to work for a music company, and continued in musical pursuits the rest of his life. He died in Chattanooga in 1924. - RBW
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