Charles H. Gabriel

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Charles Hutchinson Gabriel (August 18, 1856, Wilton, Iowa – September 14, 1932, Hollywood, California) was a writer of gospel songs and composer of gospel tunes. He is said to have written and/or composed between 7,000 and 8,000 songs,[1] many of which are available in 21st century hymnals. He used several pseudonyms, including Charlotte G. Homer, H. A. Henry, and S. B. Jackson.[2]


Charles Hutchinson Gabriel was born in Wilton, Muscatine County, Iowa, and raised on a farm. His father led singing schools in their home, and young Charles developed an interest in music. It is said that he taught himself to play the family's reed organ.[2] Even though he never had any formal training in music, he began to travel and lead his own singing schools in various locations around the age of 17.[3]

His musical talent was well recognized in his boyhood home of Wilton. There is one folklore story, that the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Wilton (Pastor Pollock or McAulay) once saw Gabriel walking in town early in the week. He asked Gabriel if he knew a good song to go along with his sermon. The pastor shared the sermon topic and by the end of the week the boy had written a song for that Sunday, words and music. The Rev. N. A. McAulay was a pastor at the Wilton church for many years, and it is also said that young Gabriel wrote the music for one of McAulay's songs. The song, "How Could it Be," was later published in Songs for Service, edited by Gabriel, with the music being credited to "Charles H. Marsh," possibly one of Gabriel's pseudonyms.[4]

Eventually he served as music director at Grace Methodist Episcopal Church, San Francisco, California (1890-2). While working at Grace Church, he was asked to write a song for a mission celebration. He wrote "Send the Light," which became his first commercial song.[5] He moved to Chicago, Illinois, and in 1912 he began working with Homer Rodeheaver's publishing company.[2]

Gabriel was married twice, first to Fannie Woodhouse, which ended in divorce, and later to Amelia Moore. One child was born to each marriage.[6]

He died in Hollywood, California. Gabriel wrote an autobiography titled Sixty Years of Gospel Song (Chicago, Illinois: Hope Publishing Company, undated).



Gabriel edited 35 gospel song books, 8 Sunday school song books, seven books for male choruses, six books for ladies, ten children's song books, nineteen collections of anthems, 23 choir cantatas, 41 Christmas cantatas, 10 children's cantatas, and books on musical instruction.[7]

Among these publications are: Gospel Songs and Their Writers (Chicago, Illinois: The Rodeheaver Company, 1915) The Singers and Their Songs (Chicago, Illinois: The Rodeheaver Company, 1916) Church Music of Yesterday, To-Day and for To-Morrow (Chicago, Illinois: The Rodeheaver Company, 1921) Golden Bells (Chicago, Illinois: The Rodeheaver Company, 1923) (music editor) His "Dream of Fairyland" was an exceedingly successful children's cantata, and sold well for several years. He considered his best work to be a sacred cantata for adult voices: "Saul, King of Israel."[8] He also had an interest in military bands, and wrote marches, waltzes, etc., for bands.[8]

Gospel Songs and Hymns[edit]

"Gospel songs" are not necessarily published in the main hymnals used in denominational worship (they are typically found in evangelical Protestantism and are less prevalent in more liturgical churches), but Diehl's index to denominational hymnals published from the 1890s to 1966 lists 37 tunes by Gabriel.[9]

As a sample of Gabriel's vast output, below are the Gabriel tunes from three songbooks and two denominational hymnals. This list omits tunes attributed to names that are possible Gabriel pseudonyms but includes lyrics published by Gabriel under a known pseudonym. Note that none of these sources published one of Gabriel's most popular songs, "Brighten the Corner Where You Are" (1913).[10]

The song books referenced in the table are as follows:

TitleDateLyricsHymnal numbersComment
"Send the Light"no dateGabriel#457 (B)his first widely sung work
"Homeward"no dateAda Powell#168 (R)choral
"Calling the Prodigal"1889Gabriel#66 (R)
"I Will Not Forget Thee"1889Gabriel#65 (R) #278 (B)
"There is Glory in My Soul"1894Grace Weiser Davis#27 (R)
"Let the Sunshine In"1895Ada Blenkhorn#147 (R)children's song
"O Sacred Head"1895Paul Gerhardt#179 (R)choral arrangement of a classic
"Be a Hero"1897Adam Craig#148 (R)children's song
"Higher Ground"1898Johnson Oatman, Jr.#303 (R) #127 (C) #319 (B)Also known by first line "I'm pressing on"
"Oh It Is Wonderful"1898Gabriel#193 (L)Also known by the first line "I Stand All Amazed"
"The Silly Little Duck"1898Ida M. Budd#158 (R)children's song
"Dear Little Stranger"1900Gabriel#143 (R)children's song, Christmas
"O That Will Be Glory"1900Gabriel#130 (C) #485 (B) #41 (R)"The Glory Song"
"Because I Love Jesus"1902James Rowe#20 (R)
"He is So Precious to Me"1902Gabriel#79 (R) #304 (B)
"The Lord Knows Why"1902Johnson Oatman, Jr.#111 (R)
"Sunshine and Rain"1902Gabriel#149 (R)children's song
"Help Somebody Today"1904Mrs. Frank A. Breck#13 (R) #67 (C)
"There is Glory in My Soul"1904Grace Weiser Davis#239 (C)
"Awakening Chorus"1905Charlotte G. Homer#271 (C)pseudonym Gabriel
"He Lifted Me"1905Charlotte G. Homer, pseudonym Gabriel#192 (C) #28 (A)Also known by first line "In loving-kindness Jesus came"
"I Stand Amazed"1905Gabriel#1 (A) #139 (B)See also "My Savior's Love" infra
"My Savior's Love"1905Gabriel#163 (C)Also known by first line "I stand amazed"
"What a Saviour!"1905Charlotte G. Homer#16 (A)pseudonym Gabriel
"Because He Loved His Own"1906Civilla Durfee Martin#56 (R)
His Eye Is on the Sparrow1906Civilla Durfee Martin#231 (C) #29 (A)
"Little Evangels"1906Ida L. Reed#145 (R)children's song
"More Like the Master"1906Gabriel#120 (R) #60 (C) #325 (B)
"The Way of the Cross Leads Home"1906Jessie Brown Pounds#141 (C) #196 (B)Also known by first line "I must needs go home"
"As a Volunteer"1907W. S. Brown#36 (R)
"God Knows Thy Need"1907"A. N."#8 (A)
"Growing Dearer Each Day"1907Gabriel#24 (R)
"Harvest-Time is Here"1907Gabriel#177 (R)choral
"Kept Through Faith"1907Civilla Durfee Martin#93 (A)
"Let Us Be Lights"1907Maggie E. Gregory#95 (A)
"Now"1907Ada Ruth Habershon#36 (A)
"Onward, Forward"1907Charlotte G. Homer#89 (A)pseudonym Gabriel
"A Sinner Made Whole"1907W. M. Lighthall#8 (R)
"A Song of Victory"1907Charlotte G. Homer#175 (R)pseudonym Gabriel, choral
"The Way of the Cross Leads Home"1907Jessie Brown Pounds#11 (R)See also 1906 listing supra
"Will the Circle Be Unbroken?"1907Ruth Ada Habershon#55 (A)
"Just When I Need Him Most"1908William Pool#16 (R) #175 (C) #267 (B)
"The Slighted Stranger"1908Gabriel#88 (R)
"White Harvest-Fields"1908Eleanor W. Long#110 (R)
"Whom, Having Not Seen, I Love"1908Maud Frazer#28 (R)
"It is Jesus"1909Thomas O. Chisholm#126 (R)
"Sail On"1909Gabriel#17 (R)
"Thy Kingdom Come"1909C. McKibbin#3 (R)
"All Hail, Immanuel!"1910D. R. van Sickle#181 (R) #272 (C)choral
"Crown Him With Many Crowns"1910Matthew Bridges#172 (R)Choral, not the well known tune
"In Loving-Kindness Jesus Came"1910Gabriel#202 (B)See also "He Lifted Me" supra
"My Father Watches Over Me"1910Walter Stillman Martin#86 (R)
"Singing All the Time"1910D. R. van Sickle#140 (R)
"Wonderful Love of Jesus"1910Gabriel#35 (R)Also known by first line "In vain in high and holy lays"
"An Evening Prayer"1911C. M. Battersby#120 (C)Also known by first line "If I have wounded any soul today"
"The Great Campaign"1911Gabriel#174 (R)choral
"Send the Power Again"1911W. C. Poole#70 (R)
"They Didn't Think"1911Phoebe Cary#156 (R)children's song
"Pentecostal Power"1912Charlotte G. Homer#243 (C) #173 (B)pseudonym Gabriel
"Since Jesus Came Into My Heart"1914R. H. McDaniel#84 (C) #310 (B)
"I Need Jesus"1924George O. Webster#125 (C)


  1. ^ Osbeck, Kenneth W. 101 More Hymn Stories. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1985, p. 120.
  2. ^ a b c Biography at the Cyber Hymnal
  3. ^ Osbeck, Kenneth W. 101 Hymn Stories. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1985 p. 195.
  4. ^ First Presbyterian Church, Wilton, IA
  5. ^ Smoak, A. Merril, Jr. "Charles H. Gabriel: The Turning Point," The Hymn, v. 34, no. 3, July 1983, pp. 160-164. This article is a detailed summary of Gabriel's sojurn in San Francisco.
  6. ^ Biography database at IMDB
  7. ^ Osbeck, Kenneth W. 101 Hymn Stories. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1982, p. 195.
  8. ^ a b Hall, J. H. Biography of Gospel Song and Hymn Writers. New York: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1914, pp. 349-354.
  9. ^ Diehl, Katharine Smith. Hymns and Tunes—An Index. New York: Scarecrow Press, 1966.
  10. ^ Sanville, George W. Forty Gospel Hymn Stories. Winona Lake, IN: Rodeheaver-Hall Mack Co., 1943, pp. 20-21.

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