William Howard Doane: Master Musician

by Bernard R. DeRemer

William Howard DoaneWilliam Howard Doane (1832-1915) at age 10 sang in a church choir. By 14, he had become leader of an academy choir, and at 18, director of the Norwich Harmonic Society.

His musical gifts, discovered and nurtured so early, would come into full fruition later. Yet he was also destined for other achievements, including more than 70 patented woodworking machine inventions.

Doane was born at Preston, Conn. (his ancestors had arrived on the Mayflower) and studied at the Woodstock Academy. As early as age 6, he sang in public. At 12, he was considered "an exceptionally fine flutist." By 15 he was a "skilled organist and student of musical composition."

Doane was saved at an early age and became active in church and Sunday school, often walking long distances to attend services. He and two other students held meetings at school; some 50 fellow students professed faith as a result.

He joined the firm of J.A. Fay & Co., woodworking machine manufacturers. At 27 he was promoted to manager of the western branch and located in Chicago.

Doane married Fanny M. Treat and they had two daughters. At their home, "hospitality gave kindly greeting to alland religion blessed every occupant."

Then Doane moved to Cincinnati, where the company was headquartered, and later became president. A skilled inventor, he developed a large number of woodworking machines produced by his company, which guaranteed its success. He was also superintendant of the Mt. Auburn Baptist Sunday School and active in the YMCA.

But, of course, it is in music that he is remembered today. He is credited with 2,300 musical compositions; he also edited and produced many songbooks which have been widely used.

After his providential meeting with the beloved blind poet, Fanny Crosby, they collaborated on many hymns and gospel songs-she wrote the words, he composed the music.

Some of his most famous numbers include: "I Am Thine, O Lord," "Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross," "Savior, More than Life to Me," "Rescue the Perishing," "Tell Me the Old, Old Story," "Take the Name of Jesus with You," "More Love to Thee, O Christ," "Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior," "Draw Me Nearer," "Near the Cross," "Will Jesus Find us Watching?" and "Though Your Sins Be as Scarlet."

Denison University honored Doane with the Doctor of Music degree. He went to be with the Lord in 1915, but lives on through his many musical numbers which still inspire and challenge multitudes.

The estate of his daughter, Ida Frances Doane, provided funds for constructing the William Howard Doane Memorial Building on the campus of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. This four-story music building, housing offices and classrooms, is an enduring memorial to a master musician.

This article is based on information from Moody Bible Institute.

Bernard R. DeRemer, in more than a decade of writing for Pulpit Helps, has chronicled
the lives of dozens of God's choice leaders across recent centuries.

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