W. O. Cushing
THE subject of this sketch, William Orcutt Gushing, was born at Hingham
Center, Mass., December 31, 1823. His parents were Unitarians,
and his early training was along these lines, having studied with the
Unitarian minister at his home town. William was a most noble and
thoughtful boy, and when he became old enough to read the Bible and
think for himself, he joined the Christian Church.
When eighteen years of age he decided to prepare for the ministry,
feeling that he had a call from God to that work. After completing his
education he entered upon the work for his Master. Mr. Cushing's first
pastorate was at Searsburg, N. Y. While here he became acquainted with
Miss Hena Proper, and was married to her February 4, 1854. She proved
to be a great help to him in his gospel work. After serving Searsburg
charge for several years, he was at different times pastor at Auburn,
Brooklyn, Buffalo, and Sparta, N. Y. During these years of faithful
work, Mrs. Cushing's
health failed ; they then returned to Searsburg,
where he again served as pastor for several years.
After a long illness through which he cared tenderly
for her, she died July 13, 1870. Soon after her death,
creeping paralysis seized upon Mr. Cushing, and he was
compelled to retire from the ministry.
As a pastor, he was very successful, and dearly beloved by both old and young ; he was also a great
worker in the Sunday-school, After being incapacitated
for active ministerial work, his prayer was, "Lord, still
give me something to do for Thee!" In answer to
this prayer he was permitted to write many of the
world's best known gospel poems. Rev. W. O, Cushing
wrote over three hundred hymns that have been
set to music by some of the most distinguished composers
of this country, including Dr. Geo. F. Root, Rev.
Robert Lowry, Ira D. Sankey, H. P. Main and others.
Perhaps the most widely known of his hymns are the
following: "Ring the Bells of Heaven," "We are
Waiting, We are Watching," "When He Cometh,"
" Hiding in Thee," " Do They Know ?" "There'll be
no Dark Yalley," " When Jesus Comes," "Down in the
Valley," "Beautiful Yalley of Eden," "I am Waiting
by the River," "The Name of Jesus," "Fair is the
Morning Land," "Gathering Home to the Silent Shore,"
Children's Day service—"Floral Praise." His hymns
have added a rich contribution to American hymnology,
and are sung wherever the gospel in song may be
Mr. Cushing was a most noble, sweet spirited Christian
gentleman. To know him was to love him. He
was ever mindful of the suffering of others, but was
oblivious to his own. It was a characteristic of his life
to minister to the wants of others, and trust the Lord
to supply his own. At one time he gave a thousand
dollars, which was all he had, to a blind girl that she
might secure an education. He was instrumental in
the erection of the Seminary at Starkey, N. Y., and
also gave material aid to the school for the blind at
Mr. Cushing was poor in purse, but rich in spirit
homeless, but not friendless. The last thirteen years of
his life were spent in the home of Rev. and Mrs. E. E. Curtis, Lisbon Genter, K Y. While living with these
good people, he united with the Wesleyan Methodist Church. He died October 19, 1902. His life was an
inspiration to all who knew him, and his death was that
of the righteous.
Source: Biography of Gospel Song and Hymn Writers by J. H. Hall; 1914