July 21, 1831, Poughkeepsie, New York.

Son of a Baptist preacher, Perkins came from a family of 10 children who sang and played various instruments. His music lessons began at age three. During his father’s pastorate at Hamilton, New York, choir rehearsals were often held at the parsonage; the leader would put the three year old on a small stool, on the table around which the choir was assembled, giving him a chance to both see and hear. Later, Perkins would play the violincello in church, standing on a stool to finger the instrument.

In 1839, the family moved to New York City, where Theodore studied the pianoforte. By age 19, while working as a clerk, he used all his spare time to study voice and piano. In 1851, he went to Hamilton, New York, to teach music at Madison University (later Colgate University) and the Female Seminary.

In 1854, Perkins went to Port Jervis, New York, where he taught singing school. In 1855, he married Mary Caskey, who for years was his soprano soloist in many events. Soon after the marriage, they moved to Salem, New Jersey. In the summer of 1856, he and his wife studied at the Normal Academy of Music at North Reading, Massachusetts, under Lowell Mason and George Root. In 1859, Perkins became co-principal, with William Bradbury, of the Normal Academy of Music at Geneseo, New York. He also worked in schools in North Pelham, Ontario, Canada, and in Tunkhannock and Meadville, Pennsylvania, and served as musical director in numerous churches in Brooklyn, New York, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He also taught voice culture at Princeton and Lafayette Universities, the Union Theological Seminary, and Crozer Seminary, Upland, Pennsylvania. His works include:

  1. Anatolia
  2. Angel’s Proclamation, The
  3. Babler
  4. Be Strong (Hudnut)
  5. Bellefontaine Neighbors
  6. Chihuahua
  7. Dark Is the Night
  8. Father, When Shall All the Weary Earth
  9. Keep Thou My Way
  10. Las Palmas
  11. Lundie
  12. Magill
  13. Mosul
  14. Nazareth
  15. Odenwald
  16. Pilgrim, Watch and Pray
  17. Polar Star, The
  18. Praise Ye Jehovah
  19. Red Hook
  20. Repentance
  21. Ringing, Sweetly Ringing
  22. Skopje
  23. There Is No Love Like the Love of Jesus
  24. Thine Eye Can See
  25. Thornton
  26. Underwood
  27. Wyoming