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Robert Lowry: Shall We Gather at the River

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Published on Mar 30, 2008

Donna and Megan Vamos perform Robert Lowry's famous gospel hymn "Shall We Gather at the River?" at Strathroy United Church on March 30, 2008. Music Director Edith Hanselman accompanies on the piano.

Robert Lowry (March 12, 1826 - November 25, 1899) was an American professor of literature, a Baptist minister and composer of gospel hymns.

Lowry studied theology at the University at Lewisburg (now Bucknell University) 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.

Lowry 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," "Nothing But the Blood," "Shall We Gather At The River?," and "How Can I Keep From Singing?"

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."[citation needed] But, however, it is as a hymn writer that he remains renowned.

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

Lowry was a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and served as the second national president, preceded by Joseph Benson Foraker, Governor of Ohio.

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