By A. C. Bridges (Originally Printed in the June 1981 ARP Magazine.)
A frequently used hymn in evangelistic services is our Hymn-of-the-Month for June, “We Have Heard the Joyful Sound,” or “Jesus Saves.” It is No. 503 in The Hymnbook and No. 370 in Trinity Hymnal.
Over and over this phrase, “Jesus saves,” is used. The singer declares that he has heard the joyful sound, he longs for it to be heard in every land, this being the Lord’s command. In one way after another through the stanzas he wants the joyful sound wafted to the ends of the earth.
The writer of the words, Priscilla Jane Owens (1829-190)7, was born in Baltimore and was a schoolteacher there for 49 years. She was a member of Union Square Methodist Episcopal Church, a worker in the Sabbath School who wrote hymns for children’s services and articles for Christian periodicals.
The tune is called “Jesus Saves,” or “Salvation,” and it was composed for this text and first appeared in Songs of Redeeming Love (1882). The composer was William James Kirkpatrick (1838-1921). Some say Kirkpatrick was born in Ireland; others say he was born in Duncannon, Pa. He received musical training from his father and other musicians, and in 1855 he moved to Philadelphia and joined Wharton Street Methodist Episcopal Church. At age 21 he edited his first collection, Devotional Melodies (1859), and a collection of camp-meeting songs. He was a fife-major in the Union Army, and after the Civil War, he was in the furniture business in Philadelphia. After his wife died he devoted his full time to music, becoming director of music at Grace Church in Philadelphia. He was editor, or associate editor, or was associated with publishers of about 100 collections of Gospel songs.
Some of his tunes are set to such well-known songs as “‘Tis So Sweet To Trust in Jesus,” ” He Hideth My Soul” and “A Wonderful Saviour Is Jesus, My Lord.” He composed one of the best tunes of “Away in a Manger.” Ten of his tunes are in the ARP Bible Songs.
Click here for the tune.