HOFFMAN, Elisha A.

Rev. Elisha A. Hoffman

(May 7, 1839 – )

The subject of this sketch, Elisha A. Hoffman, was born in Orwigsburg, Schuylkill County, Pa., on the seventh day of May in the year of our Lord 1839. His parents, Francis A. and Kebecca A. Hoffman, were Pennsylvania Germans. His father was a minister of the Gospel in the Evangelical Association, and rendered over sixty years of service in preaching the word.

He was educated in the public schools of Philadelphia, the city of Brotherly Love, and graduated, in the scientific course, from the Central High School. Afterwards he took up the classics and completed a classical course in Union Seminary, of the Evangelical Association. For eleven years he was connected with the Association’s publishing house in Cleveland, Ohio. His musical education was limited. He is no graduate from any School of Music, but the best of all he is a natural musician. All the musical knowledge he has was gained by personal application.

Mr. 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. The children early became familiar with these hymns and learned to love them and to feel their hallowing and refining power. Their lives were marvelously influenced by this little service of song in the home. A taste for sacred music was created and developed, and song became as natural a function of the soul as breathing was a function of the body.

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. His inner being thrilled Avith inspirations, longing for expression, and he used the power with which God had clothed him in the production of the many songs which bear his name. His first composition was given to the world when he was eighteen years of age. Since then heart and brain and pen have been very prolific in the birth of songs.

Over two thousand of his compositions are in print. He has assisted in the compilation and editing of fifty different song books, some of which have received marked favor and have been issued in large editions. All have accomplished a measure of good, and have proved a blessing to the world. Many separate compositions have been translated into the languages of different countries, and from these many countries have come letters expressing gratitude to the author for their helpfulness and inspiration.

In the larger number of his musical compositions Mr. Hoffman is the author of both the words and music. When a melody is born in his soul, appropriate words seem to be immediately associated with the melody ; or, when a conception in his mind crystallizes into a hymn, usually there is present the suggestion of a melody that will give adequate and fitting expression to the mental conception. There are exceptions, but this is the rule which governs him in his musical writings.

Among his most popular and useful songs are: “What a Wonderful Saviour,” “Enough for Me,” “Are You Washed in the Blood?” “No Other Friend Like Jesus,” ” I Must Tell Jesus,” and many others.

Mr. Hoffman has been a minister of the Gospel for many years, and is at present the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Benton Harbor, Michigan, and has served this church in this relation for over thirteen years. While his ministry in the churches which he has served has been fruitful, his songs in the good which they have done have constituted a still larger ministry. Through his songs he preaches to many thousands who never hear his voice.