Artist Birtday : 07/05/1839 (Age 90)
Born In : Orwigsburg, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania
Occupation(s) : Presbyterian Minister
Genres : Gospel

Elisha Albright Hoffman was born May 7, 1839 in Orwigsburg, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. Hoffman’s parents, Francis A. and Rebecca A. Hoffman, were both of German descent. His father worked as a minister in the Evangelical Association for over 60 years, which likely influenced Hoffman’s decision to enter the ministry.

Hoffman’s musical education was obtained from his parents. While possessing natural musical abilities, Hoffman never attended a school of music. Any musical instruction Hoffman received came from his experiences at his father’s church or at home. In addition to singing at church, the Hoffman household had a daily family worship time, of which hymn singing was an important part. Hoffman, therefore, became very familiar with the musical and spiritual tradition of Evangelical hymnology at a very early age. It was during these times of family worship that Hoffman developed a love for sacred music and a belief that song was “as natural a function of the soul as breathing was a function of the body.”

During the American Civil War, when Hoffman was 24, he enlisted as a Private in the Union Army on July 9, 1863. He served with Company A, 47th Infantry Regiment, Pennsylvania. He was discharged just over a month later on Aug. 14, 1863.

Hoffman attended public school in Philadelphia and graduated from Central High School in the scientific course. After finished high school, Hoffman attended Union Seminary, associated with the Evangelical Association, in New Berlin Pennsylvania. After receiving his degree from Union, Hoffman spent eleven years working with the Evangelical Association’s publishing house in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1866 at 26, Hoffman married Susan M. Orwig who was 22 at the time. Hoffman was ordained by the Presbyterian Churches in 1873, at the age of 34. Two years later in 1876, his wife, Susan died, leaving him a single parent of their three sons.

In early 1879, at the age of 40, Hoffman remarried to Emma, a woman who was 26 years old. The couple had a baby boy in December of that same year, adding to the family’s three other boys. At the time, they were living in Cleveland, Ohio, and had Hoffman’s sister-in-law living with them and working as a dressmaker.

Upon leaving his position with the Evangelical Association, Hoffman began his pastoral ministry. From 1880 until his retirement in 1922, Hoffman pastored several churches in Cleveland and Grafton, Ohio; Benton Harbor, Michigan; and Cabery, Illinois. His longest post was held at the Benton Harbor Presbyterian Church in Michigan where he served for 33 years. It was during these years in ministry that Hoffman composed the bulk of his hymns. There are over two thousand hymns composed by Hoffman in print. Among his most popular and widely recognized songs are: “What a Wonderful Saviour!”Enough for Me” “Are You Washed in the Blood?,” “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,” “No Other Friend Like Jesus,” “I Must Tell Jesus,” and “Is Your All on the Altar?” Hoffman also assisted in the compilation and editing process of over 50 different song books.

In 1906, his daughter Florence married Barratt O’Hara who eventually served the state of Illinois as Lieutenant Governor (1913-1917) and a Democratic U.S. Congressman (1949-1951 & 1953-1969). Hoffman died on November 5, 1929 in Chicago, Illinois.