Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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SANKEI, Ira David, evangelist, born in Edinburgh, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, 28 August, 1840. His father, David, was for many years a state senator, president of a bank, and an editor. As a boy, Ira displayed a great, liking for music. The family removed to New Castle, Pennsylvania. where, at the age of fifteen, he united with the Methodist church, of which his parents were members. He became leader of the choir, superintendent of the Sunday-school, and president of the Young men's Christian association in the town. In 1870 he was delegated to the Indianapolis international convention of the last-named body, where he first met Dwight L. Moody. Since that time he has been associated with him in his evangelistic work as a singer, and has attained a wide reputation. His melodies, whether composed by Mr. Sankey or selected, are simple, pleasing, and effective, readily caught, and easily remembered. On 23 April, 1886, he presented to the town of New Castle, Pennsylvania, as a free gift, a Young men's Christian association building, equipped with gymnasium, reading-rooms, halls, school-rooms, and an art gallery, and since then he has also given a valuable building-site to the church with which he was first connected. Mr. Sankey, however, does not confine himself exclusively to singing: he has always taken an active part in the inquiry-room, and of late has addressed meetings very acceptably. He has a fine baritone voice, and accompanies hitnself on the harmonium, singing solos, and also leading the audiences. Mr. Sankev's compilation of "Sacred Songs and Solos" has ]oeen translated into many languages, and has had a larger circulation than any other book of hymns.
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