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. Jesus Is Com­ing
  63. Jesus of Na­za­reth
  64. Jesus Wept
  65. Juba
  66. Light up­on the Shore, A
  67. Look un­to Me
  68. Love That Gave Je­sus to Die, The
  69. Ljubljana
  70. Kinsman
  71. McGranahan
  72. Memories of Earth
  73. Mine!
  74. Neither Do I Con­demn Thee
  75. Neumeister
  76. New Del­hi
  77. Nicobar
  78. None but Christ
  79. Not My Own
  80. O Glo­ri­ous Foun­tain
  81. O Thou My Soul
  82. Onward Go!
  83. Oh, Re­vive Us by Thy Word
  84. Osasco
  85. Paradise
  86. Pardon, Peace and Pow­er
  87. Pierson
  88. Preach the Gos­pel
  89. Primavera
  90. Redeemed
  91. Redemption Ground
  92. Rejoice in the Lord Al­way
  93. Rise Up and Has­ten
  94. Ryle
  95. Salerno
  96. Skellig Mi­chael
  97. Sometime We’ll Un­der­stand
  98. Sound the High Prais­es
  99. Ta­ran­to
  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