Homer Rodeheaver, Pioneer of Sacred Records

By Bob Olson

Music evangelist and gospel singer Homer Rodeheaver was the most prolific recorder of sacred songs in the acoustical recording era, singing before the recording horn of most major companies. Several evangelists had recorded earlier, beginning in the mid-1890s when Ira D. Sankey, accompanying himself on a Mason and Hamlin melodeon, sang hymns in the Leeds and Catlin studio at 53 East 11th Street in New York. Sankey went on to make Edison and Columbia cylinders in the late 1890s. Sankey was song leader for the famous evangelist Dwight L. Moody. On January 17, 1898, for Berliner 662, Moody himself recited "Beatitudes from the Sermon On The Mount" (he recited the first ten verses of the Beatitudes). Evangelist Gipsy Smith had recorded several twelve-inch records for Columbia in 1910 and 1911, and British evangelist William McEwan started his Columbia recording career in mid-1913. General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, made one twelve-inch record for Columbia.

Many record artists included sacred songs among their repertoire, notably Henry Burr and Frank C. Stanley. John Young and Frederick Wheeler used the pseudonyms Harry Anthony and James F. Harrison when they cut gospel duets, which sold well. But among singers who recorded religious songs almost exclusively, Rodeheaver had no peer. He was on at least eighteen record labels during his recording career, from 1913 to 1942, with over 500 sides issued.

Early Life and Career

He was born Homer Alvan Rodeheaver on October 4, 1880, in Union Furnace, Ohio. The family moved to Tennessee when he was a child. The brief biography that appeared in the yearly Victor catalogs from 1919 through 1925 states, "Homer Rodeheaver is a Southerner. He began his career in a mountain log camp [his father owned a lumber business in Jellicoe, Tennessee], and in later years learned the trombone and played in the 4th Tennessee [Regimental] Band, going with them to the Spanish-American War. After singing and playing his way through the Ohio Wesleyan University, he leaned toward the law, but was induced to enter the evangelical field."

In 1904 Rodeheaver entered the musical evangelism field and in 1909 joined Billy Sunday to serve as vocal soloist and song leader for Sunday's many nation-wide gospel crusades. He was the George Beverly Shea (Billy Graham's soloist) of his day, but, unlike Shea, he also led the congregational song services with his trombone and the Billy Sunday 2500 Voice Mixed Chorus. The chorus made one Victor record: "Sail On" backed by "America" (18322).

He had a talent for leading audiences in the song services before Billy Sunday's sermons, his genial and informal manner getting even the most shy and retiring to participate. By all accounts a jovial man whose sincerity was infectious, he was affectionately known to associates as "Rody." He worked with Sunday for 20 years, until 1929, and wrote a book titled My Twenty Years With Billy Sunday. Sunday was the leading gospel evangelist in this century's early decades and was important to the cause of prohibition.

Early Victor Records

Rodeheaver's first records were made for Victor in 1913, and he recorded for the company for almost 20 years, with 67 issued numbers. Along with gospel songs, or "revival hymns" as they were often called, he sang prohibition songs and did recitations. His first Victor disc, 17455, coupled the hymn "Old Fashioned Faith" with the anti-alcohol song "De Brewer's Big Hosses" (a disc made three years later, Victor 17988, features another prohibition song, "Molly And The Baby Don't You Know"). His second disc, Victor 17456, featured "If Your Heart Keeps Right" and "The Unclouded Day," both sacred songs. The third issue, 17478, consisted of four recitations, two to a side: "To My Son" with "Mother's Love" backed by "Daddy" with "That Little Chap Of Mine." Perhaps his most requested recitation, not recorded by Victor, was "Me An' Pap An' Mother."

Victor literature identified him as Billy Sunday's choir leader and soloist. The supplements of March and April 1915 advertise "Four New Rodeheaver Hymns": "Jesus, Blessed Jesus" backed by "Jesus Remembered You" (17713); and "An Evening Prayer" backed by "How Sweet Is His Love" (17714). The supplements state, "The Victor records by this popular evangelistic singer which were issued last year [17455, 17456, 17478] have been much appreciated, and these March selections are sure to be widely sought by customers who are interested in the Sunday meetings."

Victor's June 1915 supplement promotes two songs as being "'Billy Sunday' Favorites by Rodeheaver": "Brighten The Corner Where You Are" and "I Walk With The King" (17763, both listed as "revival hymns"). It states that the songs were favorites in recent Philadelphia meetings and that the singer's voice was in fine condition after his brief rest following a strenuous campaign.

His most recorded song was "Brighten The Corner Where You Are." It was Sunday and Rodeheaver's theme song, and Rodeheaver recorded it for at least 17 different labels. The next most recorded titles were "Mother's Prayers Have Followed Me" (13 issues); "If Your Heart Keeps Right" (13 issues); "The Old Rugged Cross" (11 issues); "Since Jesus Came Into My Heart" (10 issues); "In The Garden" (9 issues); and "My Wonderful Dream" (8 issues).

He cut many duets with a colleague in the Sunday campaigns, contralto Virginia Asher, called Mrs. William Asher on most labels. Their first release--in July 1916--was one side of 18020, "In The Garden," backed with the Rodeheaver solo, "When The World Forgets." Victor's September 1921 supplement announced the release of their duet of "Where The Gates Swing Outward Never," which was backed with Rodeheaver's solo performance of "All The Way To Calvary" (18780), and the supplement calls them "Two of the best known evangelistic singers in America." Asher was his most regular recording partner.

His last acoustical recording for Victor was "Christ Is All" backed by "Trusting Jesus That Is All," (19452), both solos. The record is announced in the December 1924 supplement. In all, he recorded 37 acoustical sides for Victor.

Edison Cylinders and Discs

The second company Rodeheaver recorded for was Edison. He recorded six songs in early 1914 that were issued in July 1914 as Blue Amberols 2349 through 2354. "Somebody Cares" and "I Walk With The King" were issued only as Blue Amberols, never on Diamond Disc. Four songs issued on Blue Amberol were recorded again, on January 2, 1915, for Diamond Disc release. "Mother's Prayers Have Followed Me" and "My Father Watches Over Me" were issued not only on cylinders in 1914 but on Diamond Disc 50228 in 1915. "If Your Heart Keeps Right" and "Old Fashioned Faith" were issued on cylinders but also Diamond Disc 50229.

Diamond Disc 50228 remained in the catalog until Edison went out of the commercial record business in late 1929. In fact, 12 of the singer's 15 Diamond Discs were still in the catalog at the end (since he was on both sides of the discs, which was not typical for Edison artists, he was on 24 sides at the end).

Introducing the new artist, the May 1914 issue of Edison Phonograph Monthly states, "As a boy he had a contralto voice, and when his voice changed, it developed into a splendid robust baritone....About ten years ago Mr. Rodeheaver felt the call to evangelistic work, but refused to enter the work at that time as he wanted to finish his college course and go to law school. However, these plans were spoiled, for he accepted what he thought would be a brief engagement as a musical director with Dr. W.E. Biederwolf. He stayed with Dr. Biederwolf for five years and then accepted the same position with Rev. W.A. Sunday. In his work with Mr. Sunday he...directs the largest choruses in the whole country. They number from twelve hundred to two thousand in the different cities. He possibly sings to more people night after night than any other man in the whole world today."

Almost ten years went by before Rodeheaver recorded for Edison again, in November 1924. "Carry Your Cross With A Smile" and "All The Way To Calvary" were issued as Diamond Disc 51399. The Edison company was later than other companies in adopting electric recording methods, and his first electric recordings for Edison were released in February, 1928: "Carry Thy Burden To Jesus" backed by "You Can Smile" (Diamond Disc 52178).

A portion of a Rodeheaver recording, "My Wonderful Dream" (Diamond Disc 51682), was issued on one of Edison's 13 Sample Records. Sample Record #4 was issued February 18, 1926, a month before the Diamond Disc featuring the entire performance was released. Two songs were issued on needle cut Edison 11024 in August 1929: "Where The Gates Swing Outward Never" and "The City Unseen." Both are duets with Thomas Muir and both were also issued on Diamond Disc 52452.

In all, twelve songs were issued on Blue Amberol cylinders from 1914 to 1928, the last one being Blue Amberol 5583 ("Take Up Thy Cross"). One additional title, "In The Garden With Jesus," was assigned a Blue Amberol number (5511) but was never actually released to the public.

Columbia and Other Companies

His first Columbia disc was issued in the spring of 1916: "Brighten The Corner Where You Are" and "If Your Heart Keeps Right" (A1990). His first Columbia recording with Virginia Asher was their popular "In The Garden" (A2667), backed by a Chautauqua Preachers Quartette performance. Columbia's February 1920 record supplement characterizes two new numbers by the duo--"Still Undecided" and "When I Look In His Face" (A2833)--as "revival hymns." There were nine couplings by Rodeheaver in the A- prefixed series, the last, "Standin' In The Need Of Prayer" backed by "Old Time Religion" (A3856), released in June 1923. Both sides of A3559, "Heab'n" and "Some O' These Days," released in May 1922, were identified in the 1923 Columbia catalog as being taken "from Book 'Plantation Melodies.'"

In June and July of 1917, Emerson issued two seven-inch records and four six-inch one-sided records with Rodeheaver performances: "Brighten The Corner Where You Are" backed by "A Rainbow On The Cloud" (7158), and "Since Jesus Came Into My Heart" backed by "If Your Heart Keeps Right" (7191). The six-inch issues were 5194, 5195, 5224 and 5225. He seems to have made no other Emerson recordings.

Pages 126 and 127 of the May 1921 issue of Talking Machine World note his readiness to promote records in Cincinnati: "Rodeheaver visited many of the dealers while here and took quite an interest in boosting the sales...Manager Donovan, of the Shilito talking machine department, reports a good month and states the Rodeheaver records had quite a run. 'Rody' gave several public recitals at Shilito in connection with the Victor while he was here and came over one morning to let the public see how records were made. He brought Mrs. Ascher [sic], Miss Kinney and Mr. Matthews with him and they made about a dozen records."

On August 20, 1921, he made what may be the first Gennett recordings in the company's Richmond recording plant (matrices 11000 through 11004). Before this time, with the exception of experiments in Richmond, recordings were made in New York and were transported to the Richmond factory for pressing. However, nothing from the August 20 session was released. In May 1922 he recorded eighteen numbers, of which only four recitations were released: "Two Old Pals" backed by "Me An' Pap An' Mother" (4882), and "Daddy" along with "Little Chap Of Mine" backed by "The Mother's Love" (4893).

Beginning on April 14, 1922, he began recording prolifically for Gennett in the company's New York studios. From July 1922 until February 1924, 27 records--with both sides featuring Rodeheaver--were made by Gennett (4860 through 5285), all but three of them recorded in New York. On the B side of Gennett 5664, "The King At The Door," recorded on June 24, he sings with a female singer identified as J.N. Rodeheaver (the A side features Rodeheaver as solo artist singing "Shining Shore"). Earlier, Gennett issued a record by Ruth Rodeheaver (her married name was Thomas): "O Hear Him Calling Thee" backed by "Tis The Last Rose Of Summer" (4901). But the baritone evidently never recorded duets with Ruth. It is likely that Ruth was his daughter; "J.N." was possibly his wife.

He was on at least three Herwin discs that used Gennett matrixes: 75512, 75513, and 75514. Four titles were also issued early in the Gennett subsidiary Champion label series (15150 and 15151).

The Talking Machine World Advance Record Bulletin of July 1922 that listed his first Gennetts also listed titles offered by the Aeolian Company on its Vocalion label: "I Walk With The King" backed by "Life's Railway To Heaven" (14339). His first for the company was Vocalion 14033, issued in April 1920: "Brighten The Corner Where You Are" coupled with "I'm Coming Home, Mother's Prayers Have Followed Me." He recorded for the company until 1926, by which time the Vocalion label was owned by Brunswick, with 15311 issued in June: "He Lifted Me" backed by "Will There Be Any Stars In My Crown."

He did not record much in early 1924 due to traveling. Page 12 of the July 1924 issue of Talking Machine World states, "On his return from Australia after a trip around the world, Homer Rodeheaver, famous evangelistic singer and Gennett record artist, tendered a luncheon to the staff of the New York office of the Starr Recording Laboratories, makers of Gennett records, in celebration of his homecoming." At this time Tom Griselle was music director of the laboratories.

He recorded at least two songs, "Jesus Blessed Jesus" and "Drifting," for the Bridgeport Die & Machine Company, makers of Puritan records and subsidiary labels. He evidently never recorded for Pathe. Sacred numbers in the Pathe catalog--called "Billy Sunday Hymns"--were sung by William Wheeler, called both a tenor and baritone (he was trained as a tenor). The catalogs of various companies identify Rodeheaver as a baritone.

Rainbow Sacred Phonograph Records

In late 1920 he founded his own record company. It was evidently headquartered in Chicago, at first at 440 South Dearborn Street. From the beginning the new company had recording labs in Winona Lake, Indiana (later in New York City as well and perhaps Chicago) and branch offices were established on the East Coast. Page 138 of the January 1921 issue of Talking Machine World announced the new venture: "The Rodeheaver Co., 440 South Dearborn Street [Chicago], is out with the announcement of the first release of 'Rainbow Sacred Phonograph Records.' These consist of selections by famous evangelistic speakers and singers....The recording laboratories are situated at Winona Lake, Ind., which has long been famous as a center of evangelistic effort. The company has also an Eastern branch at 814 Walnut Street, Philadelphia."

The April 1921 issue of the trade journal reports similar information: "The first releases of the Rainbow record of the Rodeheaver Record Co....have met with much favor....For the present, at least, the recordings will be confined entirely to sacred songs....It is planned to have any excess profits from the record business help support a training school for evangelists at Winona Lake, Ind. The Rainbow laboratory has been established at Winona Lake, Ind., and the distribution of the records will also be made from the offices of the Rodeheaver Co...."

The trade journal's October issue states on page 34: "The Rodeheaver Record Co., the head of which is Homer Rodeheaver,...has now established headquarters at 150 East Forty-first street, New York City, with Thomas P. Ratcliff in charge as general manager. The company plans to do considerable recording at the new headquarters, as well as at Winona Lake, Ind., where much of the recording has been done in the past. The permanent laboratories of the company will still be maintained at Winona Lake, which, during the Summer, is the gathering place for Bible students and those in training to become song leaders, under the direction of Dan Bedoe [sic] and Fred Martin...The new Rainbow records, which is the name of the Rodeheaver Co. products, are made under the direction of C.R. Johnson, a recording expert of wide reputation, who has been connected with the trade for thirty-two years."

The inclusion of tenor Daniel Beddoe on the Rainbow roster--the above cited article states that he "is now under exclusive contract with the Rodeheaver Co."--would have brought some prestige to the fledgling company. Years earlier Beddoe had won fame as a concert artist, recorded for Victor's Red Seal series, and recorded for other companies, including Brunswick. The third item in the Rainbow catalog, Rainbow 1003, featured on one side Beddoe singing "A Heart Like Thine." However, both numbers that initially appeared on 1003 (the other side featured a "Mixed Quartet") were eventually replaced by numbers sung by Rodeheaver. At some point at least 12 of the first 20 Rainbow catalog numbers were reused, and these different couplings complicate any discographer's attempt to list all Rainbow releases. The Rainbow label series ran from 1001 to 1130. Most feature Rodeheaver himself.

At some point the Chicago office was moved from South Dearborn Street to 218 S. Wabash Avenue, not far from Orlando Marsh's recording studio at 308 S. Wabash. In fact, advertisements for Marsh Laboratories, Inc. in 1927 list Rainbow as one of Marsh's customers (by 1927 the Marsh laboratories had moved to 64 East Jackson Blvd.). The last Rainbow releases were made from electrically recorded masters, and perhaps Marsh had supplied these.

From the beginning Rainbow records featured a colorful rainbow at the top of the label. The recordings are usually harsh. Most are acoustical. Early issues state, "Rainbow Sacred Record, Rainbow Record Co., Chicago-Philadelphia...Recording Laboratory, Winona Lake, Ind." They also state, "This record approved by Homer Rodeheaver." Soon on the label the company name was changed to Rodeheaver Record Company. Some records list New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Winona Lake under the company name, others just Chicago. The rainbow also was given a lighter hue. Under the rainbow on every label were the words "Ev'ry cloud will wear a rainbow if your heart keeps right," taken from the song "If Your Heart Keeps Right." Toward the end of the series the label was changed to a bright red, with gold print, and a gold cloud appears with the rainbow in the form of a music staff. Cities listed at the bottom were Philadelphia and Chicago.

Olson

Rodeheaver also put out private recordings on a "Special" label--the word "Special" is on the label itself. Discs were not assigned record numbers. The label was red, the print gold. The label design was curiously like Victor's "wing" label. Price was a dollar. The label states, "Rodeheaver Recording Laboratories, Chicago, Illinois, Personal Recording." These were not restricted to sacred material. One features a tenor identified as Paul Stone Wight of Scottdale, Pennsylvania. On one side he sings "God Knows We're Here To Stay." The melody is that of Bonds' "A Perfect Day" but new lyrics concern the Ku Klux Klan. On the reverse he sings the melody of the famous railroad song "Casey Jones"--again, lyrics are about the KKK. Both performances feature piano accompaniment.

His trombone playing was featured during revival services and Victor supplements of the early 1920s include photographs of Rodeheaver with his trombone, but only one record is known to feature him playing it: the A side of the first Rainbow record (1001). He plays on trombone a verse of "Safe In The Arms Of Jesus," then sings one verse, then finishes with trombone. It is backed with "I Walk With The King" as a vocal solo.

The Winona Lake facilities were the center for Bible Conferences, and Rodeheaver had assembled a mixed chorus. Two Rainbow records feature the Winona Lake Chorus of 600 Voices: "Hallelujah What A Savior" backed by "Awakening Chorus" (1013), and "The Star Spangled Banner" backed by "Brighten The Corner" (1014). Rodeheaver sings a vocal solo on the last number.

Some of his solos, as well as Rainbow numbers that do not feature Rodeheaver, were evidently recorded in the Chicago studios. The matrix numbers on these included a 6000/7000 series written under the label, and a 3-digit series.

But he also had two large recording sessions at the Gennett New York studios, 13 numbers and 2 remakes in June, 1925, and 11 numbers in March, 1926. Sixteen of these songs, eight records, were issued on Rainbow only, with the Rainbow issue numbers shown in the Gennett ledgers. Only one record, both sides with Charles Hart--"Grace Greater Than Our Sin" backed by "Jesus Has Loved Me"--was issued on Gennett 3280, the last Rodeheaver release on the label, in May, 1926, as well as on Rainbow 1120/1121. The session also included two other numbers with Hart: "Praise His Name" and "I Need Jesus" (Rainbow 1119), the latter a trio including Donald Chambers. Six of the titles, three from each session, were never released.

Ledgers state for Gennett 3280, "We can use these without giving Rode credit." Regarding the charge for one of the two sessions, ledgers state, "Billed to Rodeheaver Co. June 25, 1925. Total recording expense, including everything on 13 numbers and 2 remakes. $2,162.50." For the March 1926 session, charges totaled $1,187.50.

During the March 1926 session he cut four numbers that were patriotic: "Battle Cry For Freedom" backed by "America The Beautiful" (1124), and "America For Me" backed by "Columbia's Song" (1125). Two of his other patriotic numbers were released in Gennett's personal recording 20000 series, "Hats Off To Old Glory" and "Battle Hymn of the Republic," both on Special 20167.

More Records of the Late 1920s

The Fall 1926 edition of the Sears Roebuck catalog began featuring performances on the Silver-tone label under a new heading, "Selections By Homer Rodeheaver." Of 52 titles on 26 discs, 11 were in the 3800 series, with 4 more added later, 15 using the same 4000 and 5000 numbers as on Gennett. All were from Gennett matrixes and are acoustical. Both 1927 catalogs had the same listing with 25 records. This dwindled to 12 in the Spring 1928 issue. All were gone when the Fall 1928 catalog featured the Silvertone 8000 series.

In the mid-1920s he recorded for Brunswick as well as Okeh for the first time. The first Okeh disc featured duets with Asher--"The Old Rugged Cross" and "Love Led Him To Calvary" (40415)--and was released in September 1925. The last of nine Okeh records featured "A Child Of The King" backed by "The Old Fashioned Meeting" (40689).

He recorded even less for Brunswick--ten songs issued on five records, beginning with "When The World Forgets" backed by "An Evening Prayer" (2899) and ending with "Throw Out The Lifeline" backed by "Yield Not To Temptation" (3260), which appears to be a scarce record (it was never in Brunswick's catalog). The last title was never recorded by him for any other label, but the "Throw Out The Lifeline" matrix appeared in the Sears Roebuck Fall 1931 catalog on Supertone S-2118, backed with "In The Garden" by the Perry Brothers, who were McFarland and Gardner. The other titles were in the 1927 Brunswick catalog.

In the electric era, Victor issued 13 Rodeheaver couplings from recording sessions held on November 3 and 5, 1925, and January 4 and 5, 1927. Numbers from these sessions were released from February 1926 to June 1928. Most of these couplings, nine in all, were remakes of earlier acoustical recordings. Three songs (both sides of 20999--"Drifting" backed by "Closer To Jesus"--and one side of 21337--"Where The Gates Swing Outward Never") were duets with Henry Burr, the only time they sang sacred songs together.

His first electric recordings for Columbia were issued on 417-D, released in October 1925: "We Are Going Down The Valley" and "Is My Name Written There." Unlike with Victor, there was only one remake of an earlier number for Columbia. The last of the acoustical recordings with Virginia Asher was 211-D, released in December 1924: "Shall We Gather At The River" backed by "Take The Name Of Jesus With You."

From this time on his Columbia duets were with Doris Doe. Of the nine Columbia couplings from 417-D to 1201-D in 1928, seven featured either one or both sides with Doe. For example, 1201-D, released in January 1928, had a solo by Rodeheaver, "Sweeter As The Years Go By," coupled with a duet with Doe, "The Church By The Side Of The Road." The coupling from Columbia 872-D, "The Unclouded Day" and "Satisfied There," both duets with Doe, were remastered and released in mid-1935 on Vocalion 02960.

When his association with Billy Sunday and his crusades ended in 1929, Rodeheaver's music publishing company was flourishing. Rev. Sunday passed away in Chicago in 1935.

The 1930s and Beyond

Rodeheaver did little recording in the 1930s. On March 28, 1931, he recorded two numbers for Columbia: "There's A Rainbow Shining Somewhere" and "You Can Smile," both with The Rodeheaver Singers. These were released on Columbia 2432-D and were listed in the 1934 Columbia Royal Blue catalog.

On April 27, 1932, he cut the same numbers and two others for RCA Victor. The "Rain-bow" side was backed by "He Keeps On Loving Us Still" (24163), the "Smile" side backed by "The Christ Of The Cross" (24164). The company's 1934 catalog lists these under the titles only, not under "Rodeheaver" with his other numbers. Both discs were deleted by the next catalog, but the 1936 and 1938 catalogs still had 16 of his earlier titles. The 1940-1941 catalog--the last big catalog before the U.S. involvement in World War II--still listed four of titles (Victor 19875 and 20385).

The Fall 1933 Montgomery Ward catalog, the first with the MW label, listed three records from Victor matrixes, one side only: "In The Garden" (MW M-4350, taken from Victor 20385), "The Old Rugged Cross" (MW M-8117 taken from Victor 19875), and "Brighten The Corner Where You Are" (M-8155 taken from Victor 19880).

Since 1909 he had been in the gospel song publishing business under names such as the Rodeheaver- Ackley Co, The Rodeheaver Co., and the Rodeheaver Hall-Mack Co. He bought up many copyrights and re- copyrighted them under his own name. Around 1936 he started copyrighting under the name of "The Rodeheaver Co," Winona Lake, Ind. Those with previous copyrights were shown as "The Rodeheaver Co., Owner." He is credited with publishing 80 different song books. He composed a few songs himself and the music for a number of others. He owned the copyright on hundreds of songs. His two most famous copyrighted songs were "In The Garden" and "The Old Rugged Cross."

In the late 1930s or early 1940s, after the advent of the run-in groove on records, Rodeheaver started a short-lived new Rainbow electrically recorded series, again starting with the 1000 issue numbers. "Mother's Prayers Have Followed Me" (D7-CB-1195) was issued with "How Tedious And Tasteless" (D7-CB-1196)" on Rainbow 1006. On Rainbow 1011, "A Child Of The King" (QB-6310-1-07)" was issued with "The Glory Of His Presence" (QB-6311-1-07). These scarce records have organ accompaniment. The label is red on the lower half, gold on the upper, with the label name and the rainbow in red, with company credit of "Mfd and Licensed by Rainbow Record Co., Chicago and Winona Lake, USA."

In the 1940s he served for a time as the music leader for the Bob Jones University. Two sermons by the Rev. Jones had been issued on Rainbow 1025 in the 1920s.

Among his last recordings are two five-record Decca sets. He recorded in late 1939 Album of Gospel Hymns (2621 through 2625) and, in early 1942, Album of Gospel Songs #2 (4219 through 4223). Two of the 4200 numbers, "Jesus Took My Burden" and "Good Night And Good Morning," were re-issued on Decca 14511 in late 1949 in Decca's purple labeled Faith Series.

One LP that features a Rodeheaver track is Yesterday's Voices, produced by Word Records in the late 1970s. The track is "Then Jesus Came," cut around 1950 for an International Sacred Recordings 10-inch LP. This Rodeheaver composition opens with a short sermon. The singer is accompanied by organ. Also on the LP is a Billy Sunday sermonette condemning "booze."

In his last years Rodeheaver presented sacred concerts, evidently with a sermon. My younger brother, stationed in the Air Force in 1951 in San Antonio, Texas, attended such a concert at the First Baptist Church. Rodeheaver was in good voice and still played trombone solos, telling the audience it was the same trombone he had played for troops in the trenches, which may refer to his time with the regimental band in the Spanish American War. Researcher Quentin Riggs briefly met Rodeheaver in 1955 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and asked the identity of uncredited singers who assist the baritone on Victor 17455, "De Brewer's Big Hosses." Rodeheaver replied that this was an octet that sang with him at revivals.

Homer Rodeheaver passed away in the town of Winona Lake on December 18, 1955, at age 75. His gospel publishing company continued for about 20 years after his death, being bought out by the Word Publishing Co. Today his copyrighted songs are shown as by The Rodeheaver Co., a Division Of Word, Inc.