1856-1927

January 24, 1856, near Moosup, Connecticut.

June 27, 1927, Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Cedar Hill Cemetery, Hartford, Connecticut.

Charles was the son of Erastus L. and Sarah L. Burleson Prior, and husband of Mary E. Campbell Prior. His interest in music dated from early childhood. When but three years old he was singing Rosalie, the Prairie Flower and other popular songs. When he was about four years of age, the family moved to Jewett City, Connecticut. At age 14, he became organist for the Congregational Church in Jewett City, where he served eight years. He resigned to accept the position of chorister and organist for the Baptist Church, where he also formed a choir of young people, and organized an orchestra in the Sunday School. He conducted the song services of several Christian Endeavor Conventions in Connecticut, and was elected musical director of the annual assemblies at Crescent Beach, held by the Connecticut Baptist Bible School Union.

Prior was an honorary member of the Worcester County Musical Association for many years, and it was while singing in the chorus at its festivals that his love of oratorio music was kindled. He was also keenly interested in Gospel songs and church music in general. His first compositions were anthems for his choir. He went on to write a number of popular songs, of which over 50 were published in sheet form, including sacred, sentimental, campaign, and temperance songs.

In 1883, Prior’s first song book, Spicy Breezes, was published. He was assisted in the preparation of this book by one of his early pastors, Charles W. Ray. In 1890 a new collection, Sparkling and Bright, with John H. Tenney as associate, was issued, and in 1892, in connection with William A. Ogden, Our Best Endeavor.

Prior not only had musical talent, but considerable business acumen. His first commercial position was in the office of the Norwich Worcester Railroad in Norwich. In 1875 he became bookkeeper and paymaster for the Ashland Cotton Company of Jewett City. He was elected secretary and treasurer of the Jewett City Savings Bank in 1883, and a few years later became a member of the corporation and a director. In 1895 he accepted the position of assistant treasurer of the Security Company of Hartford. In 1896 he was elected secretary and treasurer of the company, and in November 1904, became vice-president and treasurer. For six years he was president of the Hartford Baptist Union. He was also a director of the Hartford YMCA, and a member of the Connecticut Historical Society.

Finally, Prior was deeply interested in the Italian Baptist Mission in Hartford for a number of years, serving as pianist and treasurer.

  1. Are There Ten Today?
  2. Beautiful Bethlehem
  3. Capulin
  4. First Glad Song, The
  5. Go Stand and Speak
  6. God is Our Refuge
  7. Heavenly Land, The
  8. How Shall I Live?
  9. Linger Near Me, Blessed Savior
  10. Lord Is My Strength, The
  11. Loyal to Jesus
  12. What Shall We Bring?
  13. Work for Us All

where to get Prior’s photo