November 30, 1865: Composer, Author Ida L. Reed Born Near Philippi

Nov 30, 2017

Credit e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Composer and author Ida L. Reed was born on a hilltop farm near Philippi on November 30, 1865. In the face of illnesses, family deaths, and constant poverty, she was a devout Methodist all her life.

She wrote some 2,000 hymns and songs, many of which have been translated into other languages. Her best-known composition was “I Belong to the King,” which still appears in Protestant hymnals. An estimated four million copies of this hymn have been circulated.

Reed also wrote poems and children’s Sunday school stories, which have appeared throughout the world. She wrote several books, including her autobiography, My Life Story, and The Story of a Song: What It Means to Belong to the King. Her last book, published in 1940, was Songs of the Hills. Reed also wrote for a Christian journal titled West Virginia Protestant.

Self-educated, Ida Reed never earned royalties on her work. Instead, she sold her songs outright for a few dollars each. She died in 1951 at age 85. A historical marker on the Arden Road north of Philippi points the way to her grave and former home.