By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, Wed, 22 Jan 2014 – 4:36 PM CST
Music has always been an important part of the Pentecostal tradition. This was true one hundred years ago as it is today. One of the best-known early Pentecostal songwriters was Frederick A. Graves (1856-1927).
F. A. Graves overcame significant childhood adversity. He was orphaned at age nine and was diagnosed with epilepsy five years later. He was an earnest young Christian and prepared for ministry at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and studied music in Northfield, Massachusetts. Despite suffering periodic seizures, he moved to southwestern Minnesota and served as an organizer and evangelist for the American Sunday School Union. He heard John Alexander Dowie, the famous healing evangelist, at a meeting in Minneapolis. At Dowie’s meeting, Graves experienced a miraculous healing of his epilepsy.
Graves wrote at least 43 songs, including popular hymns such as Honey in the Rock (1895) and He Was Nailed to the Cross for Me (1906). However, Graves did not write a single song until he was almost 35 years old, after his healing from epilepsy. Much of Grave’s inspiration as a songwriter came from his own experience of suffering and God’s merciful healing. Graves did not expect to be healed, nor did he expect to be a songwriter. Graves often testified in his usual understated manner, “God had a blessed surprise for me.”
Graves received credentials as an Assemblies of God minister in 1916. All of his children attended Central Bible Institute in Springfield, Missouri. His son, Arthur, became president of Southeastern Bible College (now Southeastern University). Another son, Carl, became an Assemblies of God missionary to Ceylon. His daughter, Irene, married Myer Pearlman, the noted convert from Judaism, author, and theology professor at Central Bible Institute. F. A. Graves died on January 2, 1927. Nearly 1,000 people attended his funeral in Zion, Illinois.
Read the obituary of F. A. Graves on page 7 of the January 22, 1927, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:
* “Keeping our Accounts Balanced,” by D. W. Kerr
* “Old-Time Pentecost,” by Mattie Ledbetter
And many more!
Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.
Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200