Posted by: rcottrill | October 10, 2010

Today in 1841 – William Ogden Born

[Note: The article on George Bennard was posted on October 9th, in error. He was died on October 10th, 1958. Until the post is corrected, you can go to the 9th for information about him.]

William Augustine Ogden showed a talent for making music early on. He began studying the subject at the age of 8, and was reading music with some facility in two years. Not long after, it was discovered he was able to write down the music notation of a melody after hearing it played or sung. In adulthood, with the outbreak of the American Civil War, he enlisted, organizing a male choir that became well know throughout the Army of the Cumberland.

After the war, Ogden resumed his study of music. Hymn writers Lowell Mason and Thomas Hastings were among his teachers. He published numerous song books of his compositions, and taught music at many schools in the United States and Canada. In 1887, he because Superintendent of Music in the public schools of Toledo, Ohio.

A number of William Ogden’s gospel songs, or ones for which he provided the melody, are still in use. Among them are:

Bring Them In
He Is Able to Deliver Thee
Look and Live
Seeking the Lost

Ogden has given us songs of invitation, calling sinners to look to Christ for salvation, as well as songs of exhortation to carry the gospel to those who need to hear it.

Look and Live speaks of the perceptive look of faith. It draws upon an incident in the Old Testament (Num. 21:5-9, especially vs. 9), which the Lord Jesus later used as a picture of Himself (Jn. 3:14-15). That same “look” of faith for salvation is also reflected in a text that was the means of bringing Charles Haddon Spurgeon to Christ: “Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth!” (Isa. 45:22).

I’ve a message from the Lord, Hallelujah!
The message unto you I’ll give;
’Tis recorded in His Word, Hallelujah!
It is only that you “look and live.”

Look and live, my brother, live,
Look to Jesus now and live;
’Tis recorded in His Word, Hallelujah!
It is only that you look and live.

Life is offered unto you, Hallelujah!
Eternal life your soul shall have,
If you only look to Him, Hallelujah!
Look to Jesus Who alone can save.

Seeking the Lost finds its inspiration in the parable of the Lost Sheep (Lk. 15:3-7). I can remember singing this song with a male choir 50 years ago. (There is a nice melody section for the basses in the chorus.)

Seeking the lost, yes, kindly entreating
Wanderers on the mountain astray;
“Come unto Me,” His message repeating,
Words of the Master speaking today.

Going afar upon the mountain,
Bringing the wanderer back again,
Into the fold of my Redeemer
Jesus the Lamb for sinners slain.

Thus would I go on missions of mercy,
Following Christ from day unto day,
Cheering the faint and raising the fallen,
Pointing the lost to Jesus, the Way.

(2) More from James Montgomery
The son of a clergyman, born in Ayrshire, Scotland, for many years he turned his back on his early upbringing, and abandoned the church of his youth. But the Lord kept seeking the prodigal, and eventually he repented of his backslidden ways, and recommitted himself to Christ. Desiring restoration to church fellowship as well, he wrote:

People of the living God,
I have sought the world around,
Paths of sin and sorrow trod,
Peace and comfort nowhere found.
Now to you my spirit turns–
Turns a fugitive unblessed:
Brethren, where your altar burns,
O receive me into rest.

By God’s grace, James Montgomery became one of the great hymnists of the evangelical church. (For a bit more, see Today in 1854.) In his Christian Psalmist, published in 1825, he included a beautiful hymn for the Lord’s Supper. Called According to Thy Gracious Word, It was inspired by the words of the Lord Jesus in Lk. 22:19, “Do this in remembrance of Me.”

According to Thy gracious word,
In meek humility,
This will I do, my dying Lord,
I will remember Thee.

Thy body, broken for my sake,
My bread from heaven shall be;
The testamental cup I take,
And thus remember Thee.

When to the cross I turn mine eyes,
And rest on Calvary,
O Lamb of God, my sacrifice,
I must remember Thee;

Remember Thee, and all Thy pains
And all Thy love to me;
Yea, while a breath, a pulse remains,
Will I remember Thee.


  1. i really loved this article. it helped with a little resaerch i was working on the above named. enjoyed the song played too.
    could you please assist me in digging up info on Edward Joseph Burns and the history behind his writing of the hymn “We have a gospel to proclaim?”

    • I see by that he was born in 1938, so may well be still living. (As you can see, they list the hymn you mention, and one other.) I deal mostly in our traditional hymnody, not too many songs as current as his. (And the Cyber Hymnal does not include him, because its hymns are almost all in the public domain, and still under copyright.) I also checked several quite current resources I have and there is no mention of him. Are his hymns associated mostly with one particular denomination or religious group? He seems off the radar. Really sorry I can’t be of more help.

  2. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]

  3. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]

  4. Very encouraging and challenging, many of the words here come to me at a time of mourning – I miss my Mum, who went to be with the Lord just before Christmas and have just put up her testimony on my site.
    I feel now, that although a light has gone out this scene of time, I am inspired by the memory of her singing voice (she once sang in churches and meetings) and her love for all the beautiful hymns that you discuss on this site. Thank you again.

    • Thank you for sharing. May the Lord bless you with His special comfort and encouragement. There’s a great Reunion Day coming!


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