Peter Philip Bilhorn was born in Mendota, Illinois, on July 22, 1865, to Swiss parents.
His father died in the War Between the States, three months before Peter was born.
When Peter was eight, he was forced to leave school to help support his family.
When Peter was 15, his family moved to Chicago, and his singing voice became a sensation in the German concert halls with his worldly friends.
When he was 20, he converted, and was saved, at a meeting by Dr. George Pentecost who was with the musician George Stebbins. After his conversion, he was used of God in various ways.
The organ he used in services was one he built himself. He wanted a small and portable organ he could use in street meetings, so he designed one that weighed only 16 pounds! He began manufacturing them in 1887. His organs soon were in demand all over the world.
His evangelistic work took him into all the states of the Union, Great Britain, and other foreign countries. He was Billy Sunday’s song leader before 1908.
Mr. Bilhorn was not only a prolific musician, he was a serious evangelist. One night, after conducting revival meetings in Reedsburg, Wisconsin, he could not sleep, and felt a need to get dressed and leave his room. He then took his organ and started down the street. It was bitterly cold, but he soon saw a light on in a basement. He knocked and was let in, and he found the group was gambling. He began to sing to the men, “Where Is My Wandering Boy Tonight?” Six of the gamblers made things right with God that night!
It is estimated that he wrote around 2,000 gospel songs. A sample of them are:
He died in Dec. 13, 1936 in Los Angeles, California.
Kenneth W. Osbeck, 101 Hymn Stories (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1982), pp. 114, 115.
Kenneth W. Osbeck, 101 More Hymn Stories (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1985), p. 262.
Ira D. Sankey, Sankey's Story of the Gospel Hymns and of Sacred Songs and Solos (Philadelphia: Sunday School Times, 1906), p. 201, 202.
Attempts to verify facts with government records failed.