Frances Whitmarsh Wile

WILE, Frances Whitmarsh. b. Bristol Centre, New York, 2 December 1878; d. Rochester, New York, 31 July 1939 (places and dates from Henry Wilder Foote, American Unitarian Hymn Writers and Hymns, compiled for the Hymn Society of America, Cambridge, Mass., 1959), She was an active member of the First Unitarian Church in Rochester, of which William Channing Gannett* was the pastor from 1889 to 1908. According to Ronander and Porter (1966, p. 349), ‘she was largely self-educated and spent most of her life in Rochester, where she engaged in civic affairs, championed women’s rights, and frequently contributed her poems to the local newspapers. Her husband, Abram J. Wile, was a teacher and served for a time as the secretary of the Young Men’s Hebrew Association in Rochester. In her later years, Mrs. Wile became interested in theosophy and devoted much of her time to this religious and philosophical cult.’

According to Hymnary org.), four of her hymns are known. Three were found in one or two Unitarian or Liberal Christian books in the early years of the 20th century:

‘Comrade, join the ranks we gather’;

‘My holy day my calm delight’;

‘Prayer is the opening of a door’.

By far the best known of her hymns is the fourth, ‘All beautiful the march of days’*.


Further Reading and Source

Albert C. Ronander and Ethel K. Porter, Guide to the Pilgrim Hymnal (Philadelphia: United Church Press, 1966).

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