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Sankey Still Sings

by Charles Ludwig


Other than my parents, no people have influenced me so much as Moody and Sankey. From the time I was a small boy attending the Rift Valley Academy in Kenya Colony I have been tremendously interested in them. Since that time, I have read every biography and sermon of Mr. Moody's that I could lay my hands on. Reading him made me interested in his singer, Ira D. Sankey. I sent to bookstores, searched through second-hand book counters, trying to find a full-length biography of him, but I was always disappointed. I had his autobiography, a short sketch of less than one hundred pages, but I wanted more. When I found that there were no other biographies available, I patiently waited for one to be written. But I waited in vain—none were printed. Still I thought one should be written. I knew that people would be interested in a man whose hymnal is still being reissued in lots of a quarter of a million at a time and has already sold seventy million copies. When no biographies were published, I decided I had waited long enough. This book is the result.

That Sankey is still in people's minds there can be no doubt. One time while I was still in Kenya, an aged missionary from the Congo came to one of our services. We happened to be singing "Hold the Fort, for I Am Coming," when he stepped in. He listened to it carefully and asked us to sing it again. We repeated it, but he was not satisfied. We had to sing it five or six times before he would let us sing anything else. When we were through he told us why he liked the chorus so much. It seems that he found Christ in a meeting conducted by Moody and Sankey in London years before. He remembered the chorus and the story Sankey told before he sang it. "I have been singing it ever since," he said. Then, with glistening eyes, he continued: "Many times when things were hard in the Congo, the chorus came to my lips. It is one of the things that kept me going." And so, regardless of the fate of this book, Sankey still sings, and he will continue to sing for many generations to come.

There is an amazing dearth of critical material on both Moody and Sankey. Possibly this is because neither of them kept a full diary, such as other notable men have kept. Consequently, gathering the scattered pieces for this book has been a hard task. But, I must confess, the time spent in sifting and research has been amply compensated by the close observation of what God can do with a man who is completely "sold out."

For help in collecting information for the manuscript, thanks must be given to Mr. A. G. Olson, J. R. Hemminger, Arthur Percy Fitt, and to Miss Sara Sankey McCune for numerous suggestions. I must also extend my warmest appreciation to Dr. William M. Runyan, of the Hope Publishing Co., for numerous letters, the loan of an important book, and for checking the manuscript.

Thanks are also due to Miss Grace Crumpacker, Reference Librarian at the Washington State Library, who sent for many of the books in my bibliography, and to Miss Phyllis Harding for checking them. —Charles Ludwig

From Sankey Still Sings by Charles Ludwig. Anderson, IN: The Warner Press, 1947.

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