HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Life of Knowles Shaw, The Singing Evangelist
Author: William Baxter
Publisher: Cobb Publishing, republished 2017
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Teens and adults
Rating: ***** 5 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Baxter, William. Life of Knowles Shaw, The Singing Evangelist (published in 1879 by Central Book Concern, Cincinnati, OH; republished in 1972 by College Press, Joplin, MO). Have you ever sung or at least heard the gospel song “Bringing in the Sheaves”? The text was written and the original tune was composed both by Knowles Shaw was born in Ross Twp., Butler Co., OH, on Oct. 13, 1834, to Albin and Huldah Griffin Shaw. The family moved to Rush Co., IN, during his infancy. When he was twelve or thirteen, his father, who was a farmer and tanner and later a merchant, died and left him with the words, “Prepare to meet thy God.” For the next six years, he tried to help his widowed mother by working on farms and teaching school. However, his father had also left him with a violin, and his step-father taught him how to play it. It seemed that he had a natural musical genius and found that he could make more money with the violin, so he began to perform at community dances and soon started to drink with his friends. However, one night, while he was playing at a dance, his father’s dying words came back to his mind. He suddenly stopped playing and vowed that he would never again perform at a dance.
After hearing the gospel preached with power by Gabriel McDuffie and George Campbell, Shaw was overwhelmed by his conscience and meager knowledge of the scriptures. On Sept. 13, 1852, at about age eighteen, he was baptized into Christ in Mud Creek near Homer, IN (sometimes erroneously reported as being back in Ohio), and identified himself with the Big Flatrock church of Christ which met across the road from his farm. Many expected him to return shortly to the ways of the world, but he remained faithful. On Jan. 11, 1855, he married Martha Finley, and on the third Lord’s day of Oct., 1858, was invited to make his first talk to the people who had gathered for worship. Then 24 years of age, he did such an acceptable job that he was encouraged to preach regularly. Thus, he soon began to study the Bible with a determination to share the gospel to others. Becoming a preacher, he was so popular that he was not able to answer all the calls which came to him. For a while, he lived in Columbus, IN, and was minister with the Central Christian Church. In 1874, he became minister of a Christian Church in Chicago, IL, but soon resigned to go into full-time evangelistic work, and returned to make his home in Rushville, IN, before moving to Columbus, MS. He combined hymn singing with his preaching, thus becoming known as “The Singing Evangelist.”
Over a period of twenty years, Shaw travelled north, south, east, and west, leading more than 20,000 persons to obey the gospel, sometimes 200 in one meeting. Also, he produced several hymns, for which he became known as “the singing evangelist.” Perhaps, his most famous is “Bringing In The Sheaves,” published in 1874. He also provided tunes for “We Saw Thee Not” and “Tarry With Me.” In addition, he compiled a number of Sunday school and revival songbooks, including Shining Pearls in 1868, Sparkling Jewels in 1871, The Golden Gate in 1874, The Gospel Trumpet in 1875, and The Morning Star in 1877, in which his hymn “I Am The Vine” was first published. Shaw’s last meeting was in Dallas, TX, a five-week effort with the Commerce St. church. Leaving by train for another meeting at McKinney, TX, he was killed instantly at the early age of 44 on June 7, 1878, when the train was derailed and the coach in which he was riding went over an embankment just two miles short of its destination. This biography of Shaw by William Baxter was originally published in 1879 by the Central Book Concern of Cincinnati, OH. It was republished in 1972 by College Press of Joplin, MO, as part of its Restoration Reprint Library series, and again in 2017 by Cobb Publishing.