Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Brief Bio of Hart Pease Danks, born Connecticut 1834, set poem "Silver Threads Among the Gold" to music

Short biography of Hart Pease Danks included in the March 1947 issue of The Choir Herald.


Hart Pease Danks was born April 6, 1834, in New Haven, Connecticut, and died _______ 1903, in Philadelphia.  His best known music is that set to the poem of Eben E. Rexford, "Silver Threads Among the Gold".  This poem was written by Mr. Rexford as a tribute to his mother, who was rather sensitive when the gray hairs began to appear among her golden locks.  Danks paid the author three dollars for the rights to the poem, and set it to music for which he received fifty dollars.  This he divided with the author of the words.  For one hymn he wrote both words and music, --"Able To Save" -- printed in 1876 in James R. Murray's Songs.  When Mr. Danks was old enough to go into business, he went with his father as a contractor.  Then he took up photography, but later gave this up for music.  His first composition was a psalm tune, named Lake Street.  His reputation is based largely upon his church music, which comprised anthems, solos, quartets and music for the songs "Children of Jerusalem", "Come, Let Us Sing of Jesus", "Not Ashamed of Jesus", and others.  He was a bass singer, and directed choirs in Brooklyn, New York, Chicago and Cleveland.  The song most sung at the present time is "No Night There".  The words of this song were by John R. Clements.

From online research, I believe that the father of Hart Pease Danks was Albert Danks, born about 1814 in Massachusetts.  Albert's wife was Mahala, but she may have not have been Hart's mother, but instead Albert's second wife.  There's quite a bit of information about Hart Pease Danks online, but as yet I've found nothing that names his parents.

I found a reference to the wife of Hart Pease Danks as Hattie R. Colahan.   They had several children.

If you have any corrections, additions or insights regarding the information presented above, please leave a comment or contact me directly.

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. I was just looking into danks recently via wikipedia and other sources. According to The National cyclopaedia of American biography (1898), Danks' parents were Albert and Nancy E. (Bunnell) Danks.

    yes, he married hattie r. colahan in 1858, and apparently they were estranged at the time of his death.

    there was a lawsuit between one of daughters and widow and his son (Albert V. Danks) over song royalties some time after danks' death. Gertrude L. and Albertha Danks-Builder were his daughters, Albertha died during the lawsuit. Hattie died in 1924, and the sensational storyline of the time was that she died poor, even though she was the inspiration for the greatest love song (silver threads among the gold) even though the lyrics were actually written by Eben E. Rexford (something easily overlooked in 1924 in order to come up with a juicy storyline.)

  2. Thanks for adding some color to this post!

  3. Albertha Danks married name was Bilder not Builder. She Married Nathan Bilder, Then divorced and married Sydney Harris.