Born: Feb­ru­ary 27, 1838, Dun­can­non, Penn­syl­van­ia (some sourc­es say Par­ish of Er­ri­gal, Kee­rogue, Coun­ty Ty­rone, Ire­land).

Died: Sep­tem­ber 20, 1921, Pel­ham Court Ho­tel, Ger­man­town, Penn­syl­van­ia.

Buried: West Laur­el Hill Ce­me­te­ry, Ba­la Cyn­wyd, Penn­syl­van­ia.

Pseudonym: An­nie F. Bourne.



William was the son of school teach­er Tho­mas Kirk­pat­rick and Eli­za­beth Sto­rey. He mar­ried Su­san­na J. Doak in 1861, and had three child­ren with her, in­clud­ing George T. Kirk­pat­rick and May Kirk­pat­rick.

After Su­san­na’s death, he mar­ried Sar­ah Lank­ford Kel­logg Bourne in 1893.

After Sar­ah died in 1917, he mar­ried Liz­zie Swe­ney, wi­dow of John Swe­ney.

William grew up in a mu­sic­al at­mo­sphere, and in 1854, went to Phi­la­del­phia, Penn­syl­van­ia, to stu­dy mu­sic and learn a trade. He spent ov­er three years as a car­pen­ter, but was more in­ter­est­ed in mu­sic than me­chan­ics, spend­ing his lei­sure time in its stu­dy. His am­bi­tion at the time was to be­come a vio­lin­ist.

In 1855, Kirk­pat­rick joined the Whar­ton Street Me­tho­dist Epis­co­pal Church in Phi­la­del­phia, and from then on de­vot­ed him­self most­ly to sac­red mu­sic, giv­ing his ser­vic­es to the choir and Sun­day school.

As there were few church or­gans in that day, his vio­lin and cel­lo were in con­stant de­mand for choir re­hear­sals, sing­ing so­cie­ties, and church pro­grams.

In 1861, at the start of the Am­eri­can ci­vil war, Kirk­pat­rick en­list­ed in the ar­my as a Fife Ma­jor. He was dis­charged the next year, ap­par­ent­ly be­cause of the act of Cong­ress end­ing re­gi­ment­al bands.

Kirkpatrick stu­died vo­cal mu­sic un­der Pro­fess­or T. Bi­shop, then a lead­ing ora­to­rio and bal­lad sing­er. He be­came a mem­ber of the Har­mon­ia and Han­del and Haydn Sac­red Mu­sic So­cie­ties, where he heard the great sing­ers of the day and be­came fa­mil­iar with the prin­ci­pal cho­ral works of the great comp­os­ers.


In his ear­ly years, Kirk­pat­rick wrote a num­ber of un­pub­lished hymn tunes and an­thems.

His first pub­lished com­po­si­tion was When the Spark of Life Is Wan­ing, which ap­peared around 1858 in the Mu­sic­al Pio­neer in New York.

He went on to pub­lish about 50 hymn col­lect­ions.