What a Wonderful Savior!

The composer of this hymn, Elisha A. Hoffman, was born in Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania in 1839 the son of a minister. He grew up to follow in his father’s footsteps; after attending Union Seminary in New Berlin, he was ordained as a minister in the Presbyterian Church and pastored in Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan.

When he was a child, his parents sang hymns at home morning and evening as part of their daily devotional time. Though never receiving a formal musical education, Elisha developed a natural talent for music and a love of sacred music in particular, writing his first hymn at the age of eighteen. He went on to write over 2000 hymns in the 90 years of his lifetime. For most of his hymns he wrote both the words and music. He would most often come up with the words and melody almost simultaneously – when a melody came to mind, he would imagine the words that went with it, and, conversely, when he thought of words for a particular hymn he would soon have the music for it. He felt this ability was a gift from God.

In addition to writing hymns and pastoring churches, Hoffman worked with the Evangelical Association’s publishing arm in Cleveland, Ohio, for 11 years and edited at least 50 hymn books.

Many of Hoffman’s hymns have stood the test of time and are still sung today. In addition to “What a Wonderful Savior,” his popular works include “Are You Washed in the Blood,” “Down at the Cross,” “I Must Tell Jesus,” “Is Thy Heart Right With God,” “Is Your All on the Altar,” and “Leaning On the Everlasting Arms.”


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