Biography Robert Wadsworth Lowry

Robert Wadsworth Lowry

photo of Robert Wadsworth Lowry
  • Time Period1826 - 1899
  • Place
  • CountryUnited States

Poet Biography

Robert Lowry was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 12th March 1826.

He studied theology at the University of Lewisburg and on graduating, in 1854, became ordained as a Baptist minister. He had charge of churches in a number of places including New York, Brooklyn, West Chester, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

In 1869 he returned to Lewisburg as a faculty member (having previously served as a professor of literature) and later went on to become its chancellor.

From 1880 until 1886 he was president of the New Jersey Baptist Sunday School Union.

He is most remembered as a composer of gospel music and a hymn writer, and also worked as a music editor at the Biglow Publishing Company. He was responsible for around 500 compositions, including Beautiful River and Nothing But the Blood.

Volumes he edited include:
Happy Voices (1865)
Gospel Melodies (1868)
Bright Jewels (1869)
Pure Gold (1871)
Royal Diadem (1873)
Temple Anthems (1873)
Tidal Wave (1874)
Good as Gold (1880)
Our Glad Hosannas (1882)
Joyful Lays (1884)
Glad Refrain (1886)

Despite his success as a hymn writer, it was as a preacher that Lowry would have preferred to be recognised. He once stated: "Music, with me has been a side issue... I would rather preach a gospel sermon to an appreciative audience than write a hymn. I have always looked upon myself as a preacher and felt a sort of depreciation when I began to be known more as a composer."

Despite this, it is as a hymn writer that he remains renowned, songs such as I Need Thee Every Hour and Christ Arose as popular now as they ever were.

Lowry was married with three sons and died in Plainfield, New Jersey on 23rd November 1899.