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Updated 05/31/2013


Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

Elisha Hoffman
The lyrics for "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" were written by Elisha Hoffman.  Elisha Albright Hoffman (1839-1929) was a min­is­ter’s son.  Hoffman at­tend­ed Un­ion Sem­in­ary in New Ber­lin, Penn­syl­van­ia, and was or­dained in 1868. Af­ter­ward, he worked with the Evan­gel­ic­al As­so­ci­a­tion’s pub­lish­ing arm in Cleve­land, Ohio for 11 years. He pas­tored in Cleve­land and Graft­on, Ohio, in the 1880s; at the First Presby­ter­i­an Church in Ben­ton Har­bor, Mich­i­gan, around the turn of the cen­tu­ry; and in Ca­bery, Ill­i­nois (1911-1922). In his life­time, he wrote over 2,000 Gos­pel songs.

Anthony Showalter (1858-1924) was a mu­sic teach­er, au­thor and pub­lish­er.  Showalter stu­died with Ben­ja­min C. Un­seld and George F. Root; for a year in 1895, he stu­died music for in Eng­land, France, and Ger­ma­ny. He pub­lished over 130 mu­sic books, which sold more than a mil­lion co­pies. He was prin­ci­pal of the South­ern Nor­mal Mu­sic­al Ins­ti­tute in Dal­ton, Geor­gia from its in­cept­ion in 1880. He ed­it­ed The Mus­ic­al Teach­er for over 20 years, and served as an el­der of the First Pres­by­ter­ian Church in Dal­ton, Georg­ia. His works in­clude Har­mo­ny and Com­po­si­tion, 1880.  Sho­wal­ter wrote this tune and words to the re­frain after hear­ing from two friends whose wives had died, and asked Hoff­man to write the re­main­ing lyr­ics.

Anthony Showalter

This song was sung in the 1943 mo­vie The Hu­man Com­e­dy, star­ring Mick­ey Roo­ney, which was nom­in­ated for Acad­e­my Awards in five ca­te­gor­ies, in­clud­ing Best Pic­ture and Best Ac­tor. Will­iam Sa­roy­an won Best Orig­in­al Sto­ry for the film.

Lyrics by Elisha Hoffman


What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
O how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.


What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.