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Ida L. Reed


Hymnist Ida Lilliard Reed (November 30, 1865-July 8, 1951) was born into a Methodist family on a hilltop farm near Philippi. One of eight children, Reed experienced many illnesses and family deaths and constant poverty but persisted in believing and stating that God’s love is available to all people and is expressed through nature and in the caring of people for each other

She wrote some 2,000 hymns and songs throughout her lifetime. The best-known was ‘‘I Belong to the King,’’ which still commonly appears in Protestant hymnals. Reed also wrote poems and children’s stories intended for Sunday schools and used throughout the world. She wrote several books, including her autobiography, My Life Story, published in 1912. Her book, The Story of a Song: What It Means to Belong to the King, was published in 1911. Her last book, published in 1940, was titled 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 selling her pieces outright for a few dollars each. She never married, although her name is sometimes given as Smith. A marker on the Arden Road north of Philippi points the way to her birthplace and home.

Written by Barbara Smith