13th December 1851
10th June 1921
Stark County, Ohio, USA
Edwin Othello Excell commonly known as E. O. Excell, was a prominent American publisher, composer, song leader, and singer of music for church, Sunday school, and evangelistic meetings during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Some of the significant collaborators in his vocal and publishing work included Sam P. Jones, William E. Biederwolf, Gipsy Smith, Charles Reign Scoville, J. Wilbur Chapman, W. E. M. Hackleman, Charles H. Gabriel and D. B. Towner.
His 1909 stanza selection and arrangement of Amazing Grace became the most widely used and familiar setting of that hymn by the second half of the twentieth century. The influence of his sacred music on American popular culture through revival meetings, religious conventions, circuit chautauquas, and church hymnals was substantial enough by the 1920s to garner a satirical reference by Sinclair Lewis in the novel Elmer Gantry.
Excell compiled or contributed to about ninety secular and sacred song books and is estimated to have written, composed, or arranged more than two thousand of the songs he published. The music publishing business he started in 1881 and that eventually bore his name was the highest volume producer of hymnbooks in America at the time of his death.