Henry, J. William

1867-1955 Originally from Ohio, Henry was an early leader in the Holiness Movement near Boyertown, Pennsylvania. In 1889 he, answered a call to hold revival meetings in eastern Pennsylvania. Denominational leaders had received requests from congregations there, but had no one to send. Though Henry was only 22 years old, he proved a very effective organizer. He toured eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey for several months each year till 1895. He became a very active evangelist and song writer, holding meetings in every American state and in Britain.

The song, “I Cannot Be Idle,” was written by William J. Henry, in 1897. He got saved from his sins at the age of 20 (in 1882), and he wrote this song at the age of 35 years old. He got saved at an evangelistic meeting, took his stand with the church of God, and he was called to the ministry nine years later, in 1891. Two years later (at the age of 31 years old), he made his first trip to spread the gospel overseas. A small congregation in Liverpool, England, was started through his laboring. Henry could not be idle! Later, he started a congregation in Springfield, Missouri, where he pastored for 13 years. He wrote more than 300 songs. At the age of 73 years old, Henry and his wife wrote: “To God be all the glory! This has been the busiest and happiest time of our lives. We are both enjoying the best of health and are decided to do more for [God] in the future.” He died 20 years later.