Ju­ly 4, 1840, West Fal­low­field, Penn­syl­van­ia.

Ju­ly 9, 1907, Kins­man, Ohio.

New Kins­man Cem­e­te­ry, Kins­man, Ohio.


James was the son of George Mc­Gran­a­han and Jane Blair, and husband of Ad­die Vick­ery.

This ar­ti­cle by Gla­dys Doo­nan, To Reap for the Mas­ter, ap­peared in Chal­lenge, De­cem­ber 28, 1986. Used by per­mis­sion of Reg­u­lar Bap­tist Press, Schaum­burg, Il­li­nois.

Even the fes­tiv­i­ties of the Christ­mas seas­on that De­cem­ber of 1876 couldn’t drive them from his mind—those notes his friend Phil­ip had writ­ten to him just a few days be­fore the hol­i­day. He read them ov­er and ov­er again and al­most de­cid­ed to yield to the urg­ing of their mes­sage—al­most, but not quite. His dreams of per­son­al am­bi­tion were still too pre­cious. How could he give them up?

James Mc­Gran­a­han was a tal­ent­ed and cu­ltured Amer­i­can mu­si­cian who lived from 1840 to 1907. He was gift­ed with a rare ten­or voice and stu­died for years with em­i­nent teach­ers who urged him to train for a ca­reer in op­e­ra. Of course, this ad­vice opened up to his imag­in­a­tion daz­zling pros­pects of fame and for­tune. And he was as­sured time and time again it was all with­in his grasp.

James Mc­Gran­a­han was a Chris­tian, and he had a Chris­tian friend Phil­ip P. Bliss who was con­cerned about him. His friend was al­so a cap­a­ble mu­si­cian who had gone through ma­ny of the same ex­per­i­enc­es in his young­er days as a sing­er. How­ev­er, he had been sen­si­tive to the claims of the Lord on his life and had yield­ed his tal­ents to God for full-time Chris­tian ser­vice.

Though on­ly two years old­er than Mc­Gran­a­han, Phil­ip Bliss, at 38, had a good doz­en years of Chris­tian work be­hind him. He was then serv­ing as a gos­pel so­lo­ist with the great evan­gel­ist Ma­jor D. W. Whit­tle. How he thrilled to the re­sponse of the great crowds who gath­ered for their cam­paigns and to the work­ing of the Ho­ly Spir­it through his mu­sic! He longed for his friend James to know that thrill as well!

Philip Bliss and his wife were pre­par­ing for a trip home to Penn­syl­vania for Christ­mas. There was much to be done, but in the midst of all the bus­tle and hur­ry Bliss felt strange­ly com­pelled to take time out to write Mc­Gran­a­han a let­ter. He kept think­ing of his 36-year-old friend, who was still stu­dy­ing mu­sic, still pre­par­ing for—what? Would it be op­e­ra or would it be the Lord’s work?

Philip Bliss prayed as he wrote that he would know the right words to put down. He knew the Lord was deal­ing with James and was ea­ger for his friend to make the right de­ci­sion.

Finally the let­ter was done. Bliss, need­ing en­cour­age­ment and ap­prov­al for what he had said, read it to Major Whit­tle. In the let­ter he com­pared Mc­Gran­a­han’s long course of mu­sic­al train­ing to a man whet­ting his scythe for the har­vest. The cli­max came as he strong­ly urged, Stop whet­ting the scythe and strike in­to the grain to reap for the Mas­ter!

The let­ter was sent on its way and quick­ly reached its des­tin­a­tion. Those words touched James Mc­Gran­a­han as no oth­ers had be­fore. He could think of noth­ing else. Strike in­to the grain to reap for the Mas­ter…to reap for the Mas­ter…to reap for the Mas­ter! Day and night those words were be­fore him.

One week lat­er, De­cem­ber 19 [ac­tu­al­ly, De­cem­ber 29], 1876, the man who had penned the words was dead. The train return­ing the Bliss­es from Penn­syl­van­ia to Chi­ca­go where Phil­ip was sched­uled to sing at M­oody Ta­ber­na­cle broke through a rail­road bridge at Ash­ta­bula, Ohio. It plunged in­to a 60-foot chasm and caught fire. Among the 100 who per­ished in the dis­as­ter were the 38-year-old gos­pel singer and his wife.

When James Mc­Gran­a­han re­ceived news of the tra­ge­dy he rushed im­me­di­ate­ly to the scene of the ac­ci­dent. And it was there, for the first time, that he met Ma­jor Whit­tle.

The evan­gel­ist lat­er re­cord­ed his thoughts on the oc­ca­sion: Here be­fore me stands the man that Mr. Bliss has chos­en to be his suc­ces­sor.

The two men made the re­turn trip to Chi­ca­go to­geth­er, and as they rode they talked. Be­fore they reached the ci­ty James Mc­Gran­a­han de­cid­ed to yield his life, his tal­ents, his all to the ser­vice of his Sav­ior. He would strike in­to the grain to reap for the Mas­ter.

The op­er­a­tic world lost a star that day, but the Chris­tian world gained one of its sweet­est gos­pel sing­ers. James Mc­Gran­a­han was great­ly used in evan­gel­is­tic cam­paigns through­out Amer­i­ca, in Great Bri­tain and in Ire­land.

McGranahan’s works in­clude:

  1. Go Ye into All the World
  2. How Shall We Es­cape?
  3. I Am the Way
  4. If God Be For Us
  5. O Par­a­dise!
  6. O the Crown
  7. Repent Ye
  8. Shall You? Shall I?
  9. There Is None Right­eous
  10. Two Babes
  1. Accra
  2. Amistad
  3. And He Came to Beth­a­ny
  4. Are You Com­ing Home To­night?
  5. Banner of the Cross, The
  6. Be Glad in the Lord
  7. Be Ye Also Rea­dy
  8. Behold, What Love!
  9. Believe, and Keep on Be­liev­ing
  10. Believe Ye That I Am Able?
  11. Beloved, Now Are We
  12. Bissau
  13. Bless the Lord
  14. Blessèd Hope
  15. Braunschweig
  16. Burnley
  17. By Grace Are Ye Saved
  18. Caladesi Is­land
  19. Casting All Your Care up­on Him
  20. Chiba
  21. Church of God Is One, The
  22. Christ Liv­eth in Me
  23. Christ Re­turn­eth
  24. Come
  25. Come Be­liev­ing!
  26. Coming of the King­dom Draw­eth Near, The
  27. Crowning Day, The
  28. Dedication
  29. Doers of the Word
  30. El Na­than
  31. Every Day Will I Bless Thee
  32. Faith
  33. Fear Thou Not
  34. Figueroa
  35. Finchley
  36. Fix Your Eyes up­on Je­sus
  37. Forever with Je­sus There
  38. Frances
  39. Gdańsk
  40. Glory to God the Fath­er
  41. Go Ye into All the World
  42. Gospel of Thy Grace, The
  43. Guanajuato
  44. Hallelujah, Bless His Name
  45. Hallelujah for the Cross!
  46. He Is Not Here, but Is Ris­en!
  47. He Shall Reign from Sea to Sea
  48. He Will Hide Me
  49. His Is the Love
  50. His Mer­cy Flows
  51. I Am the Door
  52. I Can­not Tell How Pre­cious
  53. I Find Thee So Pre­cious
  54. I Know Not the Hour
  55. I Left It All with Je­sus
  56. I Shall Be Sa­tis­fied
  57. I Will!
  58. I Will Pass Ov­er You
  59. I Will Praise Thee
  60. I’ll Stand by un­til the Morn­ing
  61. Indianola
  62. I’ve Passed the Cross
  63. Jesus Is Com­ing
  64. Jesus of Naz­a­reth
  65. Jesus Wept
  66. Juba
  67. Light up­on the Shore, A
  68. Look un­to Me
  69. Love That Gave Je­sus to Die, The
  70. Ljubljana
  71. Kinsman
  72. McGranahan
  73. Memories of Earth
  74. Mine!
  75. Neither Do I Con­demn Thee
  76. Neumeister
  77. New Del­hi
  78. Nicobar
  79. None but Christ
  80. Not My Own
  81. O Glor­i­ous Foun­tain
  82. O Thou My Soul
  83. Onward Go!
  84. Oh, Re­vive Us by Thy Word
  85. Osasco
  86. Paradise
  87. Pardon, Peace and Pow­er
  88. Pierson
  89. Preach the Gos­pel
  90. Primavera
  91. Redeemed
  92. Redemption Ground
  93. Rejoice in the Lord Al­way
  94. Rise Up and Has­ten
  95. Ryle
  96. Salerno
  97. Skellig Mi­chael
  98. Sometime We’ll Un­der­stand
  99. Sound the High Prais­es
  100. Tell Me More About Je­sus
  101. Tempted and Tried
  102. There Shall Be Show­ers of Bless­ing
  103. There’s a Work for Each of Us
  104. Thou Re­main­est
  105. Thy God Reign­eth!
  106. Verily, Ver­i­ly
  107. Versailles
  108. Watching for the Dawn­ing
  109. We Are Goi­ng Home
  110. We’ll Gath­er There in Glo­ry
  111. What a Gos­pel!
  112. When Je­sus Comes Again
  113. When We Get Home