E.O. Excell

Edwin Othello Excell

13 December 1851–10 June 1921

The hearts of millions of singers who have sung the gospel under the direction of E.O. Excell during the last fifty years, will throb with sorrow to learn that he has laid down his baton, finished his work and gone on to join the great chorus which no man can number. His last work was with Gipsy Smith, in Louisville, Ky., in the midst of which he was obliged to quit his labor and return home. After more than thirty weeks in Wesley Hospital, Chicago, he answered to the call of the Great Reaper and at 9 o’clock in the evening of June 10, he fell asleep.

Mr. Excell was the last one of the old line of singing evangelists, and a more successful leader never lived. He labored with many of the most famous evangelists from the early days of D. L. Moody to the present time. For twenty years he was associated with Rev. Sam P. Jones. His was a voice of marvelous range and power, extending from low C to G above, and of a quality seldom heard. The echo of its sympathetic tone will linger in the memory of many thousands of people who have heard him sing, and will be spoken of to generations yet to be.

He was heard for the last time in the chapel of the hospital on Sunday afternoon, January 16. Sitting in a wheelchair he sang as a solo, “It Is Jesus,” with wonderful effect. To close the service the writer sang with him, “Beautiful Isle.” No longer to him is that land a vague “somewhere”; he has discovered and landed upon its shores.

For nearly forty years the writer knew Mr. Excell intimately, and a bond of friendship was forged between us that even death cannot break, for I knew him as he was, and as few others knew him, and I shall miss him as few others can miss him. The few more miles of the journey of life that remain to be traveled will be just a little rougher and uninteresting because of his passing.

by Charles H. Gabriel
Moody Bible Institute Monthly (August 1921)

E.O. Excell, in George C. Stebbins, Reminiscences and Gospel Hymn Stories (Northfield, MA: 1924).

In the passing of Mr. E.O. Excell on June 10, 1921, evangelism, as represented by its leaders, singers, writers, and publishers of Gospel songs, lost one of its most prominent figures. No man in the history of modern sacred song possessed the combination of leader, singer, writer, and publisher to the degree of success as did Mr. E. O. Excell, or stood higher in the estimation of his contempora­ries. He had a marvelous voice range, extending from low C to G above, and of a quality and power seldom heard. As a leader he was the peer of any one in the field during the years of his activities.

I met him for the first time in San Francisco in 1889, when he was with Sam Jones conducting a series of meetings. Of his hymns that have become known around the world, and everywhere loved, may be mentioned the following: “Let Him In,” “God Calling Yet,” “Scatter Sunshine,” “Count Your Blessings,” “Since I Have Been Redeemed,” etc.

His father, the Reverend J.J. Excell, was a minister of the German Reformed Church, and a good singer, it is said. Mr. Excell spent some years at the trade of a mason and brick layer, where it may be assumed he acquired his strong physique, which was a notable characteristic of his personality. His passion for music led him out of this work at the age of twenty, when he began teaching country singing schools.

He labored with many of the most famous evangelists, and for twenty years was associated with the Reverend Sam Jones. His last work was with Gipsy Smith in Louisville, Kentucky, in the midst of which he was obliged to stop his labor and return home. After more than thirty weeks in Wesley Hospital he answered the call of the Great Reaper, June 10, 1921. He was born in Stark County, Ohio, December 13, 1851.

by George Stebbins
Reminiscences and Gospel Hymn Stories (1924)

Featured Hymns:

Count Your Blessings

Publications of Hymns:

Sacred Echoes (1880): WorldCat
Herald of Praise (1880): WorldCat
Cheering Songs (1881): WorldCat
Sacred Echoes and Songs of My Redeemer (1881): WorldCat
Sing the Gospel (ca. 1882): WorldCat
Echoes of Eden (1884): WorldCat
The Gospel in Song (1885): PDF
Hymns and Spiritual Songs (1885): WorldCat
Triumphant Songs (1887): WorldCat
Triumphant Songs No. 2 (1889): PDF
Excell’s Anthems for Choir (4 vols., 1888-1893): WorldCat
Farmers’ Alliance Songs (1890): WorldCat
Triumphant Songs No. 3 (1892): PDF
Excell’s School Songs Nos. 1-2 (1892): PDF
Children’s Day Service (ca. 1893): WorldCat
Triumphant Songs No. 4 (1894): PDF
Triumphant Songs No. 5 (1896): PDF
Songs for Young People (1897): PDF
Excellent Songs for the Church (1898): PDF
Excell’s School Songs No. 3 (1898): WorldCat
The Gospel Hymnal (1899): PDF
Make His Praise Glorious (1900): PDF
Excell’s School Songs No. 4 (1901): WorldCat
International Praise (1902): PDF
Revival Songs (1902): WorldCat
Revival Songs No. 2 (1903): WorldCat
The Soloist (1903): WorldCat
Twenty-Five Anthems (1903): WorldCat
Praises (1905): PDF
Excell’s Male Voices (1905): WorldCat
Winona Hymns (1906): PDF
Famous Gospel Hymns (1907): PDF
Glorious Hymns (1908): PDF
Jubilant Praise (1909): PDF
Ministry in Song (1909): WorldCat
Men’s Bible Class Songs (1909): WorldCat
Christian Gospel Hymns (1909): PDF
Treasured Hymns (1910): WorldCat
Coronation Hymns (1910): HathiTrust
Jewels for Juniors (1911): HathiTrust
Hymni Ecclesiae (1911): PDF
Very Best Songs for the Sunday School (1911): Wisconsin
Make Christ King (1912): PDF
Gospel Bells (1912): WorldCat
Crowns of Rejoicing (1913): WorldCat
Diadems (1913): WorldCat
Select Hymns and Psalms (1914): PDF
Inspiring Hymns (1914): HathiTrust
McEwan’s Song Evangel (1914): WorldCat
New Make Christ King (1914): PDF
Flying Squadron Temperance Songs (1914): WorldCat
Carmina Sacra (1914): WorldCat
Joy to the World (1915): PDF
Crowns (1915): WorldCat
Anti-Saloon League Song Book (1915): WorldCat
Praiseworthy (1916): WorldCat
New Praiseworthy (1916): PDF
Make Christ King Combined (1916): PDF
Eternal Praise (1917): PDF
Herald of Praise (1917): WorldCat
Worship in Song (1918): WorldCat
Oliver’s Songs of Deliverance (1918): WorldCat
Hymns of the Faith (1918): WorldCat
Chorus Choir Selections (1918): WorldCat
Hymns and Sacred Songs (1918): PDF
Songs of Hope (1919): PDF
Fifty Favorite Home Songs (1920): WorldCat
Songs of Salvation and Service (1916, rev. 1920): PDF

The Excell Hymnal (1925): WorldCat
Songs of Evangelism (1925): WorldCat
Excell’s Male Quartets and Choruses (1925): WorldCat

Related Resources:

J.H. Hall, “E.O. Excell,” Biography of Gospel Song and Hymn Writers (NY: Fleming H. Revell, 1914), pp. 299-302: Archive.org

Charles H. Gabriel, “An appreciation of E.O. Excell,” Moody Bible Institute Monthly, Moody Bible Institute, vol. 21, no. 517 (August 1921), p. 517: HathiTrust

Herbert H. Smith, Organized Sunday School Work in North America, 1918-1922: Official Report of the Sixteenth International Sunday School Convention, Kansas City, Missouri, June 21-27, 1922 (Kansas City, 1922), pp. 57-58, 92, 521: Archive.org

George C. Stebbins, “Edwin O. Excell,” Reminiscences and Gospel Hymn Stories (Northfield, MA: 1924), pp. 258-263.

Melvin Wilhoit, “Edwin Othello Excell,” A Guide to the Principal Authors and Composers of Gospel Song of the Nineteenth Century, dissertation (Louisville: Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1982), pp. 102-112: SBTS

Lia C. Gerken, “Edwin O. Excell,” Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology:

E.O. Excell at Hymnary.org: