Author: John H. Yates (1837-1900)
Composer: Ira D. Sankey (1840 - 1908)
John Henry Yates was born on November 21, 1837, in Batavia, New York. As a young man he worked at a number of different jobs including newspaper editor, shoe salesman, and hardware store manger. He was ordained as a Methodist minister in 1886; later became pastor of the West Bethany Free Will Baptist Church. The one hymn that Rev. Yates left us is still sung in churches today, Faith is the Victory. Ira David Sankey composed the music.
Ira David Sankey was born in 1840 in Edinburg, Pennsylvania, to devout Methodist parents. He enjoyed the long winter evenings during his childhood, sitting around the great log fireplace. They would fellowship, sing hymns, and have a family devotion. Ira learned to read music by the age of eight and could sing the old church hymns without a flaw. He made a profession of faith in Christ at the age of 16 while attending a revival meeting at a church about three miles from his house, Kings Chapel.
About a year later his family moved to New Castle, Pennsylvania, where he joined the Methodist Episcopal Church. Young Ira received a very good education because his father was the President of the Bank and financing was not a problem. Ira was aware that he was blessed with a Christian home, and love and dedicated his life to the Lord. His father gave him a job at the bank after graduation from school. He was elected Superintendent of Sunday School and choir director at his church. It was here that Ira fought to have organs, and other musical instruments allowed in church worship services. His own church bought one of the first organs ever used in a worship service.
At age 23 he married Fanny V Edwards. They had three children, all sons. Ira’s fame as a great singer spread through out western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. He received hundreds of invitations to sing in revivals, conventions, conferences and political gatherings. He attended so many meetings that his father once said, I ām afraid Ira will never amount to anything. All he does is run around the country with a hymn book under his arm. ? Ira was blessed through his early childhood, his teen years and now in his married life, but he could not see what great things God had in store for him.
Ira had taken a job with the Internal Revenue. He was set for life with a good salary and benefits; then God moved on the scene. Ira had heard of Rev. Dwight L. Moody and his great revivals both here and abroad. He was selected to attend the International Convention of Churches in Indianapolis, Indiana. Here he met Rev. Moody and after Ira led the group in a song, There is a Fountain filled with Blood, the crowd responded lively and the room was filled with praise.
Rev. Moody met with Ira the next day and offered him a position as song leader in his revival crusades around the world. It took Ira six months to agree to spend a week in Chicago with Rev. Moody in one of his revival meetings. After this experience he resigned his job with the Internal Revenue at the age of 30. In 1870 he joined Rev. Moody’s team. They worked together until Rev. Moody’s death some 29 years later.
Ira Sankey did not write poetry like Fanny Crosby and Phillip Bliss, so he did not excel in the hymn verses but he composed the music for hundreds of great hymns by other writers. This is one of those hymns and it was sung at his funeral.
Faith is the Victory