Waxing the Gospel: Mass Evangelism and the Phonograph, 1890-1900
Various Artists

Waxing the Gospel
June 9, 2016 hennessey

Before the 20th century, the “sacred” songs of Protestant camp meetings and revivals were as catchy, memorable and personal as the pop songs of that or any other time. Bringing you more recordings from the 1890s than any other historical album to date, Waxing the Gospel is a landmark collection of 102 tracks on three CDs in a 408-page beautifully illustrated hardback book. Commercial recordings go back to 1890 and feature pioneer artists Emile Berliner, Thomas Bott, J. W. Myers, Len Spencer, Steve Porter, and J. J. Fisher—as well as stunning instrumental performances by Baldwin’s Cadet Band, Holding’s Parlor Orchestra, and the U. S. Marine Band. Celebrity recordings by star evangelists include Ira D. Sankey, Dwight L. Moody, and Prof. John R. Sweney. And vernacular recordings taken in the field are by historic evangelical figures such as Fanny Crosby reading one of her poems, Winfield Weeden singing his original songs, and the “Golden Minstrel” of the Salvation Army, Edward Taylor, who accompanies himself on the guitar. It’s a great listen, a fascinating story, a book for the coffee table, and a resource you’ll want to have nearby. List price: $55.00


  • Catalogue number: ARCH 1009
  • UPC: 868490000203
  • ISBN: 9780997435900
  • Original release date: September 30, 2016
  • Running length: nearly 4 hours / 102 tracks / 3 CD set
  • Notes & packaging: Packaged in a lavishly illustrated, 408-page, 6″ by 9″ hardback book
  • Tracks recorded: 1890-1900
  • In Archeophone’s Genres series
  • Awards: 59th GRAMMY Nominee, Best Historical Album; 59th GRAMMY Nominee, Best Album Notes
Tracks and Sound SamplesProduct DescriptionReviewsHonors & AwardsAdvance PraiseExplore Further
 Sample all tracks 
Tracklist: CD 1
1. The Lord’s Prayer Emile Berliner 1890
2. In the Sweet By and By Anonymous 1890
3. Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep Holding’s Parlor Orchestra Mar. 1892
4. Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep Bison City Quartette 1892-94
5. Nearer, My God, to Thee Baldwin’s Cadet Band of Boston 1893
6. Hallelujah Chorus, from Messiah Baldwin’s Cadet Band of Boston 1894-95
7. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot Standard Quartette Feb. 1894
8. Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep Thomas Bott 1895
9. Nearer, My God, to Thee Mozart Quartette 1895
10. Medley: Psalm 100 &
Old Hundred
David C. Bangs
J. W. Myers
Feb. 1896
May 1896
11. Onward, Christian Soldiers J. W. Myers Apr. 1896
12. The Home Over There J. W. Myers May 1896
13. What Shall the Harvest Be Len Spencer 1896
14. Calvary J. J. Fisher 1897
15. Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior Steve Porter Aug. 1897
16. The 23rd Psalm & The Lord’s Prayer Len Spencer Feb. 1897
17. What a Friend We Have in Jesus J. J. Fisher 1897
18. Yield Not to Temptation Steve Porter Aug. 1897
19. There Is a Fountain J. W. Myers 1898
20. Almost Persuaded J. J. Fisher 1898
21. Marching to Zion J. J. Fisher 1898
22. Blest Be the Tie J. J. Fisher 1898
23. Safe in the Arms of Jesus Church Chimes 1898-99
24. Just as I Am Steve Porter 1898
25. Rock of Ages Steve Porter 1898
26. The Ninety and Nine Frank C. Stanley 1898
27. Hold the Fort Len Spencer June 1899
28. Throw Out the Life Line Len Spencer June 1899
29. Almost Persuaded Frank Butts 1899
30. The Holy City [edit] Roger Harding 1899
31. Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep Greater New York Quartette 1900
32. The Mistakes of My Life J. J. Fisher 1900
33. I Am Praying for You Steve Porter 1900
34. Safe in the Arms of Jesus Harry Macdonough 1900


Tracklist: CD 2
1. Only Remembered Prof. John R. Sweney Apr. 1892
2. Rock of Ages United States Marine Band 1895
3. The 91st Psalm Dwight L. Moody Jan. 1898
4. The Ninety and Nine Ira D. Sankey 1899
5. Jesus of Nazareth Passeth By Ira D. Sankey 1899
6. A Shelter in the Time of Storm Ira D. Sankey 1899
7. Saved by Grace Ira D. Sankey 1899
8. Shall You, Shall I? Ira D. Sankey 1899
9. My Ain Countrie Ira D. Sankey 1899
10. There’ll Be No Dark Valley Ira D. Sankey 1899
11. Jesus, Lover of My Soul Sankey Quartette 1900
12. I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go Ira D. Sankey 1900
13. Hold the Fort Ira D. Sankey 1899
14. The Mistakes of My Life Have Been Many Ira D. Sankey 1899
15. Wonderful Words of Life Ira D. Sankey 1899
16. True Hearted, Whole Hearted Ira D. Sankey 1899
17. God Be with You Till We Meet Again Ira D. Sankey 1899
18. My Jesus, as Thou Wilt Ira D. Sankey 1899
19. God Is Love Sankey Quartette 1900
20. Beulah Land [excerpt] Prof. John R. Sweney Apr. 1892
21. Nearer, My God, to Thee Trinity Chimes ca. 1895-96
22. The Sermon on the Mount Dwight L. Moody Jan. 1898
23. Beautiful City of God [excerpt] Ira D. Sankey 1899
24. Nearer, My God, to Thee Ira D. Sankey 1899
25. Lead Kindly Light Ira D. Sankey 1899
26. Blessed Assurance Ira D. Sankey 1899
27. Throw Out the Life Line Ira D. Sankey 1899
28. Though Your Sins Be as Scarlet Sankey Quartette 1900
29. Where Is My Boy Tonight? Ira D. Sankey 1899
30. Safe in the Arms of Jesus Ira D. Sankey 1899
31. Onward, Christian Soldiers Ira D. Sankey 1899
32. The Homeland Ira D. Sankey 1899


Tracklist: CD 3
1. Threescore Years and Ten Fanny Crosby Aug. 1897
2. Jesus, Savior Pilot Me Capt. Charles L. Estey Aug. 1897
3. Just Tell My Mother Adjt. Edward Taylor Aug. 1897
4. The Wayside Cross John Sweney and unknown female vocalist Aug. 1897
5. Service Cues Harry Heath Aug. 1897
6. Haydn’s Creation: “The Marv’lous Work Beholds Amaz’d” [excerpt] Ocean Grove Auditorium Choir Aug. 1897
7. Sunlight Winfield S. Weeden and Chorus Aug. 1897
8. Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep [fragment] Unknown trombone solo (possibly William Sulger) Aug. 1897
9. The 23rd Psalm and The Good Shepherd Rev. J. Reeves Daniels Aug. 1897
10. Almost Persuaded Capt. Charles L. Estey Aug. 1897
11. Trusting Jesus [fragment] Unknown Aug. 1897
12. I Surrender All Winfield S. Weeden and chorus Aug. 1897
13. Saved by Grace Winfield S. Weeden Aug. 1897
14. The Shepherd True Moody Quartette Aug. 1897
15. Why Do You Wait? Unknown mixed quartet (“2 Hals, Fran & Jennie”) Aug. 1897
16. Massa’s in de Cold, Cold Ground Unknown cornet solo (possibly Louise Linebarger) Aug. 1897
17. Medley: The Church Across the Way [excerpt] &
Showers of Blessing [fragment]
Silas Leachman
Unknown flute solo
ca. 1894-97
ca. 1897
18. Lead Me, Savior and It is Well with My Soul Rittersville Singing Club ca. 1898-1900
19. In That City Rittersville Children’s Chorus ca. 1898-1900
20. Looking That Way Rittersville United Quartet ca. 1898-1900
21. Hebrew Morning Hymn Rittersville Choir ca. 1898-1900
22. Will a Man Rob God? Rev. Frederick A. Graves ca. 1900
23. The Power of God Rev. Frederick A. Graves ca. 1900
24. Poem: “Resting in His Love” Anna Maria Sawyer Apr. 1894
25. Testimony and A Little Talk with Jesus Makes it Right, All Right Rev. C. Herbert Rust and Bertha W. Rust May 1894
26. Birthday Celebration and Rock of Ages & Old Hundred Mr. Joseph Sawyer and family Oct. 1894
27. To Each of the Scholars of Bethany and The Pillar of Cloud & Collect Frank L. Embree ca. 1897-98
28. Nearer, My God, to Thee Unknown (“My Dearly Departed Mother”) ca. 1895–99
29. Down at the Cross D. B. Broad Aug. 1895 [?]
30. Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior Ernest V. Parcells ca. 1898
31. What a Friend We Have in Jesus Charles Taylor & His Two Daughters ca. 1898
32. Thanksgiving Greetings and Nearer, My God, to Thee & Psalm 103 C. W. Crary family, friends, and cat Nov. 1898
33. The Holy City Grace Marvin ca. 1898-99
34. De Massa ob de Sheepfol’ and God Is Now Here Harry Heath ca. 1896-1900
35. Prohibition Speech Harry Heath ca. 1896-1900
36. Barnyard (Quiet in the Country) and The Holy City Harry Heath & unknown female ca. 1896-1900

Led by internationally-famous evangelists Moody and Sankey, the revival business of the late 19th century was an established juggernaut, complete with its own musical soundtrack. It met up with an infant recording industry in the 1890s still experiencing growing pains. Waxing the Gospel is a groundbreaking exploration of how tradition and technology merged in three distinct areas of recording: commercial, celebrity, and vernacular. Waxing the Gospel presents top-notch performances by the earliest studio pros, records by Moody and Sankey themselves, and debuts more than a dozen sacred treasures made in the parlors of ordinary people experimenting with their own phonographs. We chronicle our incredible detective hunt that identified a cache of mystery “homemade” cylinders as actually being field recordings from 1897, taken at the annual Methodist camp meeting at Ocean Grove, New Jersey.

With 102 tracks on three CDs, enclosed in a beautifully-illustrated 6″ by 9″ hardback book, Waxing the Gospel is the most in-depth and authoritative exploration of the first decade of the phonograph ever published. The emergence of the sacred repertoire is the lens through which we make our examination, but this set is as much about brown wax cylinder records as it is about the pioneering work of evangelists Dwight L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey.

About the book

Waxing the Gospel is packaged inside an extensively-illustrated 408-page 6 by 9 hardback book that includes:

  • A prologue by noted folklorist Joseph Hickerson
  • An extensive historical essay by Richard Martin
  • Biographical entries for each artist featured on the set
  • Discographical information and selection notes for each recording
  • Full transcriptions of each recording
  • Sidebars offering additional research on related areas of interest
  • Appendices that reprint significant primary documents
  • A glossary of names with known biographical data for all artists and composers featured on the collection
  • Nearly 200 photos and illustrations that bring the history to life

About the audio

Waxing the Gospel is a four-hour journey across the first decade of recording that features:

  • Three CDs, each focused on a key area of recording during the 1890s: Commercial, Celebrity, and Vernacular
  • Original recordings from the 1890s: 90 brown wax cylinders and a dozen of the earliest discs
  • Key pioneer artists, including Len Spencer, Steve Porter, J.J. Fisher, J.W. Myers, and the United States Marine Band
  • Field recordings from an actual 1897 camp meeting
  • The two records made by Dwight Moody and all 23 surviving Ira Sankey cylinders
  • The only recording made by Fanny Crosby, identified by the album producers
  • The earliest recording of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”

“How these exceedingly rare recordings found their way to the producers of “Waxing the Gospel” is another story entirely — one part “Antiques Roadshow,” one part “CSI: New Jersey.”
Bobby Olivier, NJ.com [read review ]

“A handsome hardcover book, packed with context, underscores the magnitude of the effort behind this groundbreaking set.”
Nate Chinen, The New York Times Pop Music Gift Guide [read review ]

Waxing the Gospel is definitely one of the highest musicology achievements of 2016. Regardless if you are a believer or an atheist, a sinner or a grinner, pure of heart or just plain funky, the music presented here — much of it for the first time since it was released — is an incredible sonic pulpit that makes history truly come back to life.”
David Katznelson Boing Boing [read review ]

“A true gateway into the Victorian parlor, if these scratchy but well-preserved old songs don’t figure into your daily listening, the stories behind them and the miracle of their preservation will leave a lasting impression.”
Ed Whitelock, Pop Matters, “The 25 Best Album Reissues of 2016” [read review ]

“If the second disc relies to heavily on the rich voice of the famous missionary Ira D. Sankey, the third — hear the Moody Quartette take harmony singing in a barbershop direction, Harry Heath arguing for Prohibition, and perhaps the first recording of a cat — is a treasure chest.”
David Hutcheon, MOJO

Waxing the Gospel is overflowing with humanity throughout; it’s a shoo-in for the short list of 2016’s finest archival releases.”
Joseph Neff, The Vinyl District [read review ]

“Archeophone, the Champaign, IL label that specializes “in making the world’s oldest records accessible,” has outdone itself with the Grammy-nominated Waxing the Gospel set, which focuses on the first 11 years of the phonograph. Waxing the Gospel‘s impressive, nearly painful detailing and historic research of century-old religious recordings, richly illustrated with restored photos and artwork, is, in and of itself, an academic marvel. The collection is sure to excite the Christian music enthusiasts among us — for instance, it includes the only recording made by revered blind hymn-writer Fanny Crosby. But the real joys here are the between-the-lines revelations about the gramophone and phonograph in their infancy and how they quickly grew to change the way we regard and listen to music”
Tristram Lozaw, Analog Planet [read review ]

“A masterpiece of scholarship and curatorship, this collection sets a new standard for the presentation of early recordings.”
Ed Whitelock, Pop Matters   [read review ]

“This collection is like time travelling, making you feel like you’re at a turn of the century revival tent meeting.”
George Harris, Jazz Weekly   [read review ]

  • GRAMMY Nominee, Best Historical Album, 2016
  • GRAMMY Nominee, Best Album Notes, 2016
The New York Times
  • Recommended in the 2016 Pop Music Gift Guide
Pop Matters
  • #7 on their list of the 25 best reissues of 2016
ARSC Awards for Excellence
  • Nominee, Best Historical Research in Blues/Gospel/R&B, 2017

It is so amazing that we actually get to hear the songs and the singers that have truly been the forerunners of Christian music. It’s almost like we’ve traveled back into their time and can hear all the history and heritage that’s been captured. I’m so excited about this project!
Sandi Patty, platinum-selling, five-time Grammy, forty-time Dove, and four-time Billboard Music Award winner

To be able to listen to some of the oldest and rarest recordings of our Christian heritage is incredible! I wasn’t really prepared for what I was about to hear, expecting ancient sounds that were virtually irrelevant to what the church looks and sounds like today. What I got was people singing and preaching the very same gospel we sing and preach about today. In a time when opinions and beliefs change about as much as we change our socks, the Gospel has remained steadfast! Simply put, “Waxing the Gospel” reminds us that we truly worship a God who is . . . was . . . and always will be.
Bart Millard, lead singer of the platinum-selling and eight-time Dove Award-winning group Mercy Me

“A window in time” . . . Those words occurred to me as I listened to this well-researched and beautifully mastered set of recordings from over a century ago. What a thrill to hear such bedrock hymns of the Christian faith being “waxed” at the dawn of the American recording industry! An added bonus is hearing the voice of Fanny Crosby reading one of her poems and Ira D. Sankey singing some of his own hymn compositions—truly incredible moments in a collection ALREADY filled with incredible moments!
Allan Hall, of the platinum-selling and eight-time Dove Award-winning group Selah

I have been singing gospel songs in public since I was three years old. You cannot imagine how thrilled I was to hear these wonderful songs by the very people who wrote them! I am indebted to the folks who made this collection available because it is absolutely soul stirring to hear these recordings! This is an important cultural treasure and, dare I say, a spiritual one also.
Cynthia Clawson, Grammy and five-time Dove Award-winning vocalist

Perhaps one reason contemporary Christian music has lost its way is because we’ve forgotten where we came from. This remarkable collection is a clear window into that past. The recording by Fanny Crosby alone is worth the price.
Michael Card, author, recording artist, and composer of “El Shaddai”

Having sung Fanny Crosby’s gospel songs for all of my life, I was stunned to hear her voice reading a poem. It was her voice which somehow reaffirmed my love for her music. All of those pioneers of the music from our faith traditions became relevant to me. The contemporary brain is stirred as the soul takes comfort of those blessed assurances. What a powerful expression of modern technology and the thoughtful people at Archeophone Records who have saved this history by preserving these pioneers’ recordings! It is a treasure to have.
Ragan Courtney, poet, playwright, and author of the million-selling musical “Celebrate Life!”


Album Overview

From CD 3: Harry Heath’s 1897 field recordings

Track 7: The Standard Quartette’s 1894 recording of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”


Introducing Waxing the Gospel, CD 3

So, as we said last week, Waxing the Gospel was originally a CD dedicated to the recordings of evangelist Ira D. Sankey. But then we decided to include the discs of his partner, Dwight L. Moody. And then the Sankey Quartette cylinders got added. Then we decided that the full commercial context was necessary. Now … Continue reading Introducing Waxing the Gospel, CD 3
posted: August 2, 2016

Introducing Waxing the Gospel, CD 2

The middle CD of Waxing the Gospel is actually where the project began more than a decade ago. Our friend, “Cylinder Doctor” Michael Khanchalian, an avid collector of the extremely rare cylinders of evangelist Ira D. Sankey, asked us if we would be interested in issuing a collection of Sankeys. Little did we know when … Continue reading Introducing Waxing the Gospel, CD 2
posted: July 28, 2016

Introducing Waxing the Gospel, CD 1

  You may have heard us mention our upcoming album, but now it’s time to start filling you in with details. Waxing the Gospel: Mass Evangelism and the Phonograph, 1890-1900 is unlike any other historical reissue album you’ve seen before. With a 408-page book and nearly four hours of audio on three CDs, Waxing the … Continue reading Introducing Waxing the Gospel, CD 1
posted: July 26, 2016

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