Have you ever heard the hymn "Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling"? It's a beautiful and comforting song that has touched the hearts of many. But do you know the story behind it and the man who composed it? Let me introduce you to Will Lamartine Thompson, the talented and influential songwriter behind this timeless hymn. Will Lamartine Thompson was born on November 7, 1847, in East Liverpool, Ohio. He began his musical journey at a young age, showing a natural talent for playing the organ and piano. As a teenager, he became the church organist and choir director for the Methodist Episcopal Church in East Liverpool. Thompson's passion for music led him to pursue formal training at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. After completing his education, he returned to Ohio and worked as a music teacher and church organist. However, his true calling was in composing and publishing hymns. In 1880, Thompson released his first hymn collection titled "Sparkling and Bright." This collection showcased his gift for creating melodies that resonated with audiences. His reputation as a talented hymn writer quickly spread, and he gained recognition as one of the leading composers of his time. One of Thompson's most notable compositions is the aforementioned hymn, "Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling." This heartfelt song has a simple yet powerful message of God's love and invitation to come to Him. It has been sung in countless churches and has touched the hearts of people around the world. The hymn's popularity continues to this day, and it remains a beloved and cherished part of Christian worship. Thompson's success didn't stop with "Softly and Tenderly." He went on to compose numerous other hymns that have become staples in Christian worship. Some of his other well-known compositions include "Jesus Is All the World to Me," "There's a Great Day Coming," and "Have Thine Own Way, Lord." These hymns, like "Softly and Tenderly," express deep faith and devotion, and have stood the test of time. Throughout his career, Thompson received several accolades for his contributions to sacred music. In 1893, he was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Music by Ohio Wesleyan University. His hymnals and sheet music sold in large quantities, and his compositions were performed and recorded by renowned artists of the time. Thompson's impact on the world of music extended beyond his hymn writing. He was also an innovator in the field of music publishing. He founded the Thompson Music Company, which became one of the leading publishers of hymnals and sheet music in the late 19th century. His business acumen and dedication to excellence helped shape the music publishing industry. Despite his success, Thompson remained humble and dedicated to his faith. He believed that his talent was a gift from God and that his purpose was to use it to glorify Him. Thompson's music continues to inspire and uplift believers today, reminding them of God's love and calling. Sadly, Thompson passed away on September 20, 1909, at the age of 61. However, his legacy lives on through his timeless hymns, which continue to be sung and cherished by generations of Christians. In conclusion, Will Lamartine Thompson was a gifted and influential songwriter who left an indelible mark on the world of sacred music. Through his heartfelt compositions, such as "Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling," he captured the essence of faith and touched the hearts of millions. His talent, dedication, and faithfulness to his calling continue to inspire and uplift believers around the world.
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