1827–1907

Introduction

Born: Sep­tem­ber 23, 1827, Ge­ne­seo, New York.

Died: 1907, Los An­ge­les, Ca­li­for­nia.

Buried: Rose­dale Ce­me­te­ry, Los An­ge­les, Ca­li­for­nia.

Biography

Grannis’ fa­mi­ly moved to Le Roy, New York in 1831. His fa­ther Sam­u­el owned a hard­ware bu­si­ness which in 1844 was lo­cat­ed in the Bar­rett Block, known as the Dock, on the pre­sent site of the Le Roy Post Of­fice. Sa­mu­el was al­so in­volved with the Un­der­ground Rail­road.

Sidney would drop in­to Sam­u­el’s store, where he would sit down at the me­lo­de­on and sing un­til the room filled with peo­ple.

Although it was said that he ne­ver learned to read mu­sic, he wrote mu­sic to se­ver­al po­ems.

Grannis es­tab­lished a re­pu­ta­tion by set­ting Ca­ro­line Ma­son’s po­em Do They Miss Me at Home? to mu­sic. It be­came a fa­vo­rite dur­ing the Am­e­ri­can ci­vil war. One of the lines reads: “Does some­one re­peat my name ov­er and sigh that I tar­ry so long? And is there a chord in the mu­sic That’s miss’d when my voice is away, and a chord in each heart that awak­eth, re­gret at my wea­ri­some stay?

He al­so com­posed the ball­ads On­ly Wait­ing, Cling to the Un­ion, and Peo­ple Will Talk You Know.

In 1856, Gran­nis wrote the words and mu­sic for Spark­ing Sun­day Night. The sheet mu­sic was pub­lished by Jo­seph P. Shaw, Ro­ches­ter, New York, af­fil­i­at­ed with Ol­iv­er Dit­son (Bos­ton), who al­so dis­trib­ut­ed the song. The sheet mu­sic is pre­served in the Sib­ley Lib­ra­ry, East­man School of Music, Un­i­ver­si­ty of Roc­hes­ter, New York.

As a so­lo sing­er, Gran­nis had a re­mark­a­ble te­nor voice, which was said to have mar­ve­lous flex­i­bil­i­ty, sweet as a flute, with a three oc­tave range. A new­spa­per in Pult­ney­ville said Gran­nis per­formed at the Un­ion Church in 1864 to an ap­pre­ci­a­tive au­die­nce.

He sang at more than five thou­sand con­certs. He or­gan­ized the Am­phi­on Troupe, a vo­cal quar­tet which in­clud­ed Pix­ley and Bry­ant and Em­i­ly Good­e­nou, who sang so­lo. The group toured the coun­try giv­ing con­certs.

In 1864, Gran­nis was in New Ha­ven, Con­nec­ti­cut, where he com­posed his mu­sic for Your Mis­sion. In the lat­ter days of the ci­vil war, Phil­ip Phil­lips, who had a won­der­ful­ly sweet te­nor voice, was in­vit­ed to sing at a great meet­ing of the Unit­ed States Chris­tian Com­mis­sion in the Sen­ate Cham­ber in Wash­ing­ton, DC, Feb­ru­a­ry, 1865.

President Ab­ra­ham Lin­coln and Sec­re­ta­ry Sew­ard (then pre­si­dent of the com­mis­sion) were there, and the hall was crowd­ed with lead­ing states­men, ar­my gen­er­als, and friends of the Un­ion.

The song se­lect­ed by Mr. Phil­lips was Mrs. Gates’ Your Mis­sion. The hushed au­di­ence list­ened spell-bound as the sweet sing­er went on, their in­ter­est grow­ing to fe­ver­ish ea­ger­ness un­til the cli­max in the fifth stan­za.

In the storm of en­thu­si­asm that fol­lowed, Pre­si­dent Lin­coln hand­ed a has­ti­ly scrib­bled line on a bit of pa­per to Chair­man Sew­ard, Near the close let us have Your Mis­sion re­peat­ed.

In 1884, Gran­nis moved to Los An­ge­les, Ca­li­for­nia, where sev­er­al of his ad­mir­ers pre­sent­ed him a cot­tage and grounds. It was said of him: He was the best man we ev­er knew, go­ing in and out among us like a ray of light, ne­ver com­plain­ing, al­ways cheer­ful, al­ways hap­py, ne­ver a cloud on his sun­ny coun­te­nance.

His na­ture was mu­sic­al, he loved to sing. His songs were ins­pir­ing, his mirth con­ta­gious. Who that has heard his fa­vo­rite laugh­ing song, can for­get his sun­lit face, or fail to re­call the ef­fect the song pro­duced? His in­vi­ta­tion please join the cho­rus was su­per­flu­ous. Through­out this broad land his rol­lick­ing laugh­ter has been heard and his sweet and mu­sic­al songs have flowed like sooth­ing and peace giv­ing riv­ers.

Sources

Music

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