J. H. Kurzenknabe

J. H. Kurzenknabe
Short Name: J. H. Kurzenknabe
Full Name: Kurzenknabe, J. H. (John H.), 1840-1927
Birth Year: 1840
Death Year: 1927

Kurzenknabe, John Henry. (Muenchhof, Kurhessen, Germany, June 18, 1840--April 13, 1927, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania). German Reformed layman. His parents died of cholera when he was five, and he was placed in a boarding school. When 14, he came to the United States with his violin and his share ($500) of his parents' estate. During the 48-day voyage, he attended an elderly sick woman, a Mrs. Ziegler from Wilkes-Barre, Penn., whose family helped him settled in the States. He attended Wyoming Seminary nearby, where he studied music and perfected his English. Even before graduation, he taught violin and began teaching singing classes in the area. In 1856, William B. Bradbury came to Wilkes-Barre for a six-week musical institute. He was so impressed with Kurzenknabe's talent that he offered him, still only 16 years old, $50 a month and board to accompany him to other institutes as an assistant teacher.

Two years later, Kurzenknabe was teaching a class in Hagerstown, Maryland. At the final concert, one of the soloists became ill and a 14-year-old girl, Susan Shaffer, filled the role so well they eloped to Greencastle, Penn., and were married on November 13, 1859. They had 15 children, moving every few years until 1869 when they settled permanently in Harrisburg. J.H. (as he preferred to be called) tried to enlist in the Union Army during the Civil War, but was rejected because of his flat feet. He became a U.S. citizen on November 2, 1866.

He opened the first piano story in Harrisburg. He continued to teach singing classes, published his many song-books under the imprint J.H. Kurzenknabe & Sons, organized a band and an orchestra, and was an early and active member of the Board of Trade. Long active in the local German Reformed Church, as the city expanded he organized St. John's Sunday School in 1893 which became St. John's Chapel in 1899 at Fourth and Maclay Streets. This has kept growing so that the present church buildings include Kurzenknabe Auditorium.

As president of the Pennsylvania State Music Teachers' Association, he presided over their convention in Harrisburg, December 26-28, 1894. For the occasion, he prepared a concert with 300 voices and orchestra which was conducted by W.W. Gilchrist of Philadelphia. From this grew the Harrisburg Choral Society. That same year, he became the local examiner for the London (England) College of Music.

He wrote the words and/or the music to over 650 hymns. His song-books went through several editions, selling a total of over 300,000 copies.

In 1904, with his daughter Lily he made an extended trip back to his native Germany. On his 50th wedding anniversary, the wedding march was played by six sons and a daughter. His wife died on March 24, 1920, at the age of 75. He followed her at the age of 86.

--Information furnished by great-grandson, John G. Kurzenknabe. Additional essays are available in the DNAH Archives.


Born: June 18, 1840, Mönchdorf, Kurhessen, Germany.
Buried: East Harrisburg Cemetery, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Kurzenknabe, J. H., music teacher and author, was born in Moenchehof, near Cassel, Curhessen, Germany, Jun 18, 1840. He is a son of John George and Anna Kurzenknabe. He was left an orphan in childhood. He attended the Industrial School at Cassel. When he was fourteen years old he bade farewell to friends and home, September 15, 1854, and set out to seek his fortune in the New World, sailing from Bremerhaven for America on the following day. By mistake he was transferred to a ship on which all were strangers to him, but he was buoyant with hope and free as a bird. During the voyage of forty-nine days, being a very clever violinist, he made friends among the officers and crew and became also a general favorite with the passengers, so that he was the pet of the ship. His especial attention was attracted to an old lady who was sick during the whole voyage. Her children in America had sent money to bring over their old mother. To this helpless woman he ministered in his boyish way as best he could. The forty-nine days' voyage was tempestuous, and minus mast, and storm-beaten, the ship hove in sight of the eagerly looked-for land. On her arrival at New York, the children of the old lady were there to meet her, to whom she told the story of the boy's kindness.

In this family he found a temporary home, and in years to come he was not forgotten by them. Arrangements were made for him to go to a seminary in Pennsylvania, where under Christian training he found a safe shelter and valuable instruction. Having a talent for music he followed this bent, and in that institution of learning he prosecuted his musical studies and made for himself a name as a teacher of the violin and vocal music. He was afterwards placed under the care and instruction of William B. Bradbury, then the most prominent teacher of music in the country. After a thorough course under this master, Mr. Kurzenknabe started on his own responsibility. His first and only attempt to teach singing and a day-school together in a Maryland town was a total failure, but the very next engagement, which was at Sag Harbor, L. I., proved a complete success. After teaching successfully in Baltimore and other Maryland towns, he visited the New England States and taught conventions in a number of important cities. He then returned to Hagerstown, Md., where his lot fell in pleasant places, and here, too, he found the wife to cheer him through his busy life.

He taught successfully in Baltimore, York, Pa., Harrisburg, Philadelphia and New York, and last in Camden, N. J., where the first child, a boy, greeted the parents and cheered their hearts. His next place of residence and teaching was Moorestown, N. J., and the next Philadelphia, where a daughter was born. The war coming on, the New England States seemed safer than Pennsylvania, hence Dedham, Mass., became the next home. Fine classes in Yankee land, war songs and teaching in most of the prominent town brought money to the purse, but sickness claimed the boy for a victim. Repeated and urgent invitations from Maryland friends to make a change, for the boy's sake, induced the Kurzenknabes to disregard the threatening perils of war and journey southward. Antietam and Gettysburg brought the armies of both sides, and the great invasion left the family destitute and helpless, with but five dollars in money and a railroad ticket to Sunbury, Pa., whence the floods drove them back. Mercersburg and study for the ministry were quickly decided upon. But exciting debates of the church involved theological gladiators and their followers, and too free a tongue was not the wisest thing to have in those days of trial. Fairy visions vanished. The advent of twin boys made an increase of income imperative and teaching was the only resource. A house was purchased at McConnelsburg, but sold after an occupancy of two years. Mechanicsburg was home for a short time, and finally Harrisburg became the permanent residence, and a house was purchased which is still home. Teaching for twenty-seven years in many different States, sometimes hundreds of miles from home, always joyous, looking at the bright side of life, active, with plenty of grit, yet with his heart centered where the loved ones stay, earnest, enthusiastic, this is J. H. Kurzenknabe as his friends and scholars know him.

Professor Kurzenknabe is the author and compiler of the following books: "Sweet Silver Echoes," "Music at Sight," "Gospel Trio," "Songs and Glees," "Wreath of Gems," "Song Treasury," "Peerless Praise," "Gates Ajar," "Sowing and Reaping," " Theory of Music," "Fair as the Morning," and "Kindly Light." The sale of "Sowing and Reaping" has rached over 280,000 copies, and over 190,000 copies of "Fair as the Morning" have been sold. "Kindly Light" starts in with 20,000 copies engaged in advance of publication. All of htese books are published by his well-known house of J. H. Kurzenknabe & Sons, Harrisburg, Pa. Mr. Kurzenknabe was married in Greencastle, Pa., November 13, 1859, to Susan Shafer, daughter of George and Frederica Shafer, residents of Hagerstown, Md.

Professor Kurzenknabe is at present a member of Salem Reformed church, which, as elder, he represented for many years at Classis and in the Synod. He belongs to Peace and Plenty Lodge, No. 69, I. O. O. F., Harrisburg Encampment, No. 301, the I. O. of H., and several other organizations. He is often for weeks from home, attending conventions, gospel services and children's gatherings. He eats and sleeps well, is in perfect health, is five feet nine inches in height, turning the scale at two hundred pounds, and knowing nothing by experience of sickness. You will find him a hale-fellow-well-met. May his days of usefulness be many and his talent ever be active in the Master's cause, till the welcome summons, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant," calls him to the rest that awaits the people of God. This sketch is prepared by one of his loyal friends and ardent admirers.


Texts by J. H. Kurzenknabe (196)sort descendingAsAuthority LanguagesInstances
A charge to keep I haveJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English1
A mighty fortress is our God, To shelter and defend usJ. H. K. (Translator)English2
A sinner, I came, for my Lord to seeJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English12
A sinner, I watched, if the Lord I'd seeJ. H. K. (Author)English2
A traveler and wearyJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
A vision bright appeared to meJ. H. K. (Author)English5
A welcome to our treasuryJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
Again we meet with one accordJ. H. K. (Author)English7
Arise, ye people, and adoreJ. H. K. (Author)English1
At the sounding of the trumpet, when the saints are gathered homeJ. H. K. (Author)English156
Awake, ye saints; to praise your KingJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English1
Be thou faithful unto death, Patiently bear every trailJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
Bedeck the cross with flowers fairJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
Behold a royal wreath adornsJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English3
Bei dem Schalle der Posaune, wenn der Heil'gen großes HeerJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)German1
Bells of praise! Bells of praiseJohn H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English3
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, hear Thy child todayJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
Blessed Savior, Thou art my hope and stayJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
Break forth in joyful strainsJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
Break forth into joy, for the Savior todayJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
By the hut of the peasant where poverty weepsJ. H. K. (Arranger)English3
Calling, calling, who is calling me?J. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English7
Carol around the Christmas treeJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)3
Christ for all the world Himself a ransom gaveJ. H. K. (Author)English5
Christ for all the world, His love will freely giveJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English3
Christ or the world, which shall it be?J. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English3
Christian, see the joyous morningJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)3
Closer to Thee, blessed SaviorJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
Come, heavy laden weary heartJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English3
Come hither to the gospel feastJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
Come, join your happy voicesJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
Come sing the sacred storyJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
Come sinner to Jesus aloneJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
Coming to the Savior's crossJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English4
Dear Sunday school, thou sacred placeJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)3
Dearest Jesus, we are here, Thee and thy dear word attendingJ. H. K. (Translator)English2
Do I love Jesus? Yes, indeedJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
Do we always tell the storyJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English3
Draußen im Feld, wenn's Frührot winktJ. H. K. (Author)German4
Ein lauterer Strom des lebendigen WassersJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)German2
Ever near, ever near, Jesus, blessed SaviorJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
For Christ, our King, is born todayJ. H. K. (Author)English2
Gather the lambs, that they be fedJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
Gathering, in the early dawnJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English12
Give me the cross, the blood stained crossJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
Go pray in life's morning, and holy delightJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
Go work in my vineyard, the laborers are fewJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)5
God is love, for us He carethJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English9
Good Shepherd, Thine we long to beJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
Grateful homage, Lord, we bringJ. H. K. (Author)English3
Greet the sunbeams, golden treasureJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
Hail, glorious light, scattered is nightJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
Happy children here uniteJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)3
Happy New Year, bells are ringingJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
Hark, the heralds from the skyJ. H. K. (Author)English3
Hark, the reapers' glad refrainJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
Hark! what sweet strains greet the listening earJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
Have the nations been called to the banquetJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
He called them to his loving armsJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
He leads us on, we do not knowJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
Hear the little children singJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
Hear, the Spirit gently pleadsJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
Hear what little ones were sayingJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
Hear ye the voice of mercy still pleadingJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
Heavenly Father I would pray come thou nearJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English6
Ho, gallant volunteer, quickly ariseJ. H. K. (Author)English7
Ho ring the glad tidingsJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
I am but a pilgrim, And I must press onJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
I am so happy, Jesis doth love meJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)4
I am waiting for the boatman, I am striving more and moreJ. H. K. (Author)English2
I have a friend in Jesus, He is a friend indeedJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
I have learned of yonder heavenJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
I hear my Savior saying So gently, lovinglyJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
I love Thee, my Savior, Thy name I adoreJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
I once was a stranger to grace and to God (M'Cheyne)J. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English1
I will not let Thee go, Thou art so very near to meJ. H. K. (Author)English3
I will put my trust in JesusJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
If Jesus came todayJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
If you'd my disciple beJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
I'm a Christian soldier, standing for the rightJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
I'm redeemed, and that's my storyJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
In a manger laid so lowlyJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English6
In childhood's days, 'mid joyous gleeJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English3
In childhood's gay and thoughtless sceneJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
In our Father's house are the mansions fairJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
In the early morning we will sow the precious seedJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
Infant voices sweetly singingJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)3
Jesus is the living VineJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
Jesus loves, O, blessed storyJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English4
Jesus, Thou lovest me, this much I knowJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
Kind friends and strangers, ere we closeJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English3
Kind friends, I came hither my mission to proveJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English4
Lead me, Father, me, Thy childJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
Let the merry bells proclaimJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English3
Let the merry church bells ring, hence with tears and sighingJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English8
Let us join once more in singingJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
Let your light shine in the hedges and bywaysJ. H. K. (Author)English2
Lift up a joyful song of praiseJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
Light breaks in the eastern skyJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English4
Little children, come todayJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English6
Little hands are clasped so tightlyJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
Look on us loving SaviorJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
Look pilgrim weary of sorrow, Be thou not tempted to sinJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English4
Lord, all Thy mercies full and freeJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
Lord, we come, Thy little childrenJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
Lord, with childlike faith we comeJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)3
Lord, within thy house todayJ. H. K. (Author)English2
Make my life a little lightJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
Manch goldnes Koernlein sammeln einJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)1
Merrily ring the joyful bellsJ. H. K. (Author)English2
Merry Christmas, merry Christmas, Day of sacred joy and mirthJ. H. K. (Author)English3
Mid innocence and joyous gleeJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English5
My Savior, dear Savior, No tongue could repeatJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
Nearer to Thee, blessed Savior, To Thy embrace we fleeJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
Nothing but leaves! no fruit have I, dear Lord, to bring to theeJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
O blessed Savior, can it beJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
O burdened and aching heartJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
O Jesus, my Savior, to Thee I now comeJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English3
O Lord, all tainted and uncleanJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
O Lord, help me that I may walkJ. H. K. (Author)English3
O my dear Savior, I am Thy debtorJ. H. K. (Author)English2
O strive to enter inJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
O the precious words of JesusJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
O how happy are they Who the Savior obeyJ. H. K. (Arranger)English1
O I love to think of Jesus Name most precious tongue can tellJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English3
On Zion's glorious hills I stoodJ. H. K. (Author)English5
Once more we greet the welcome dawnJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
Only a veil conceals the lightJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
Our friends are gathering, one by one To meet the blessed SaviorJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English3
Our school is all for JesusJ. H. K. (Author)English2
Over the river, from shore to shoreJ. H. K. (Author)English4
Peace on earth, peace on earthJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
Plead my cause, O blessed SaviorJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
Praise the Lord, praise ye the LordJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
Precious love that gives me proofJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English7
Precious the words of the FatherJ. H. K. (Author)English2
Precious thought with comfort fraughtJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English6
Redeemed, redeemed, how precious to knowJ. H. K. (Author)English3
Remember thy Creator now In the days of thy youthJ. H. K. (Author)English5
Rest sweetly, darling oneJ. H. K. (Author)English6
Ring, ye merry Christmas bellsJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
Savior, help us to give heedJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
See in Zion the Lord build a city of GodJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
See, the glorious morn is breakingJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
Seek the dear children, astray from the foldJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
Sing on, my soul, glad tidings of victoryJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)3
Singing for Jesus, jubilant voicesJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
Sinner, haste, the call obeyJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
So sweetly saved, with joy I'll singJ. H. K. (Author)English3
Tell me once again, that it cheer my heartJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English3
Tell me 'tis true, let me hear that sweet storyJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
Tenderly, peacefully, lay thee to restJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
Tenderly the sunlight lingersJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)1
The beautiful river, the life giving riverJ. H. K. (Author)English9
The Christmas time has come at lastJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
The Christmas times have come at lastJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
The heavenly Shepherd is calling todayJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
The Lord my Shepherd is, I shall be well suppliedJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English1
The Sabbath bells so clear and sweetJ. H. K. (Author)English2
The voice of Jesus calls withinJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
There are wanderers on the mountains bareJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
There was music in heaven on eternity's mornJ. H. K. (Author)English9
There's a beautiful home, a mansion fairJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English4
There's a beautiful home over thereJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English3
They are coming to the Savior, See the mighty gospel throngJ. H. K. (Author)English5
They sing a new song in the realms of the blestJ. H. K. (Author)English2
This day no thorn crowned cross of painJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
Though our years are young and our strength is weakJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English13
Thou, Lord, knowest them that are thineJ. H. K. (Author)English3
Though I speak with tongues of angels and menJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
Throw open the gates of the city, The beautiful city of goldJ. H. K. (Author)English8
'Tis Jesus loves the little onesJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English1
To thee be glory, banner of the freeJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
Today, proclaims God's holy WordJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
Uns umglüht ein MorgenlichtJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)German1
Vid basunens ljud, när alla frälsta samlas fåen gångJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)Swedish4
Vid basunens ljud, när alla frälsta samlas fåen gångJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)Swedish2
We are a little pilgrim band, Traveling on, traveling onJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English1
We are faithful soldiers, marching on our wayJ. H. K. (Author)English2
We are little soldiers for the warJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
We are traveling home in Jesus' nameJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
We have come with songs to greet youJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
We know that God is always nearJ. H. K. (Author)English2
We know thou God art always nearJ. H. K. (Author)English2
We will surely be known by the fruit that we bearJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
We'll soon be at home from our pilgrim wayJ. H. K. (Author)English7
Wenn beim Klange der Posaune die Erlösten heimwärts gehnJ. H. K. (Author)German3
Wenn Posaunenschall ertönet und die Sel'gen kehren heimJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)German1
What a gathering that will beJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)2
What a great and wondrous gathering when the Son of Man shall comeJ. H. K. (Author)English2
When the angel messenger's visit cameJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
While out on the voyage of life's stormy seaJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
Who's on the Lord's side? where stand you?J. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
Why seek ye the living mong the deadJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English2
Workman awake throughout the landJ. H. Kurzenknabe (Author)English3
Ye mortals, awake with grateful songJ. H. K. (Author)English6
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