The Life and Anthems of Will James, 1896-1973.

Paul Randall Magyar, Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College


William Washington James was born on 19 December 1896 in Shelbyville, Illinois to Isaac L. James (1867-1938) and Henrietta Christman James (1867-1917). In 1909, the family moved to Kirksville, Missouri where Isaac James enrolled in the College of Osteopathic Medicine from which he graduated in 1913. During the years that the family lived in Kirksville, Will James entered the Kirksville State Normal School where he studied various courses in music as well as the required academic curriculum. In 1913, the James family moved to Springfield, Missouri where the composer lived and worked the rest of his life. The purpose of this monograph is to provide a summary of the life and accomplishments of Will James, and to discuss his contributions to sacred anthem literature. The study consists of three chapters. Chapter 1 provides a biographical sketch of the composer, including his early years, his military service during World War I, his professional, community, and family life, and a brief sketch of his compositions. Chapter 2 discusses the sixteen sacred anthems which James composed and published during his lifetime. These anthems are: Hear My Prayer (1933); Blow, Trumpets, Blow! (1936); Come, Ye Disconsolate (1936); Our of the Depths I Cry To Thee (1938); Jesus, Our Lord, We Adore Thee (1939); Almighty God of Our Fathers (1941); The Little Jesus Came to Town (1945); Sing and Rejoice (1949); Preserve My Soul, O God (1950); Hymn of Joy (1951); Alleluia (1952); A Song of Praise (1954); Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord (1954); Hail the Day That Sees Him Rise (1959); Holy Lord God (1961); and Peace I Leave with You (1963). Each discussion includes textual considerations, formal structure, and the forces needed to perform each piece. Pertinent information surrounding the creation of each composition is also included. Chapter 3 summarizes James's compositional style. Appendices include charts containing formal and textual material, and comments for each anthem.