June 30, 1853, Crail, Fife, Scotland.
James was the son of William Anderson, town treasurer of the royal burgh of Crail, Fifeshire.
A graduate of Oxford University (MusB 1878), James became a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists in 1878. In Edinburgh, he served as organist and choir master at Nicolson Square Chapel (1872–77), Abbey Parish Church (1877–79), St. Thomas’ Episcopal Chapel (1879), and St. Andrew’s Parish Church on George Street (1881).
He also taught piano at the Moray House Training College, and instructed in harmony and counterpoint at St. George’s Classes in Edinburgh. He contributed to many hymnals, and revised the harmonies of the Blackburn Tune Book and The Presbyterian Hymnal for the Young.