Wrote "Silver Threads Among the Gold"
Wrote operettas and over 1,300 songs and hymns
Hart Pease Danks was born in New Haven, Connecticut on April 6, 1834. His family moved to Saratoga Springs, N.Y. when Hart was 8 years old, and he began to study music with Dr. L. E. Whiting. At age 19, he was earning his living as a carpenter, in Chicago, where his father had a construction business, but soon gave it up to fulfill a career as a composer.
His first composition was included in William Bradley’s Jubilee, entitled “Lake Street”. In 1856, Danks’ “The Old Lane” was published and he would go on to produce songs for stage shows such as Anna Lee. He returned to New York City in 1864 and his first operetta Pauline was published in 1872. His second operetta, Conquered by Kindness was published in 1881.
As a choirmaster, Danks produced several hymns and secular compositions including “Not Ashamed of Christ” and a full book of hymns Superior Anthems for Church Choirs. His popular songs were written in collaboration with several different lyricists including W.J.D Rutledge with whom he produced “Will You Miss Me?” and “Little Bright Eyes”. Another popular tune “Don’t Be Angry With Me, Darling” was another successful song. In his lifetime, over 1300 hymns and popular songs were published but today is as the composer behind the lasting Standard “Silver Threads of Gold,” written in 1873 with lyrics by Eben E. Rexford.
Eben E Rexford, who in 1870 was the Editor of a Wisconsin Farm Journal, had developed the habit of writing verses which he occasionally used as “space-fillers” and it was one of these fillers that came to Danks’ attention. Danks then wrote to Rexford asking for permission to use the poem and offered $3.00 for that right. Rexford, excited at the propect of making money from his poems, then sent Danks a whole collection of poetry. The collection included the lyrics to “Silver Threads Among the Gold.” In 1873, Danks gave music to the verses as a loving gift.
Hart P. Danks died in poverty in Philadelphia, PA on November 20, 1903. His last written words were “It’s hard to die alone."
Hart P. Danks Song List:
CONQUERED BY KINDNESS
DON’T BE ANGRY WITH ME, DARLING
LITTLE BRIGHT EYES
LORD IN ZION REIGNETH, THE
NO NIGHT THERE
NOT ASHAMED OF CHRIST
OLD LAND, THE
SILVER THREADS AMONG THE GOLD
WILL YOU MISS ME?