by Stan Griffin
R. Kelso Carter became an ordained Methodist minister (1887) at the age of 38. A year earlier, he was a professor at the Pennsylvania Military Academy. There he wrote a hymn, "Standing On the Promises," after reading one of Apostle Paul’s letters in Second Corinthians. It was Chapter 1, Verse 20 that caught his attention: "For all the promise of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us."
"Standing On the Promises" is described as a " ... straight-forward ... gospel hymn ... (and) a favorite with God’s people for ... a century ..." It was published as part of a hymnal, "Songs of Perfect Love," the same year it was written.
Carter was an interesting individual with diverse interests. Born in Baltimore, Maryland on November 18, 1849, he was an outstanding athlete at Pennsylvania Military Academy. He was also a member of that school’s first graduating class in 1867. He returned to teach a number of subjects--chemistry, natural science, civil engineering, and mathematics–over several years.
Woven through Carter’s life were other occupational pursuits. He was the author of several novels as well as a number of textbooks used in his classes. He saw personally the texts were printed and distributed; that makes him a publisher.
Carter assisted in collecting sacred music for two hymnals; one was mentioned earlier. He wrote many of the selections himself. During his career as minister, he became an active leader in Holiness, camp meeting movement.
Carter also spent some time in California as a sheep rancher. Later he studied medicine and became a practicing physician in Baltimore.
R. Kelso Carter died August 23, 1928 at Catonsville, Maryland.
" ... Some see in the music ... (of ‘Standing On the Promises’) ... a sense of the drum-beating, rhythmic military marching-style music ... " Carter would have heard frequently at P.M.A.
"Standing On the Promises" was widely used in ... "great evangelistic crusades" after its publication, even into the 20th century; and it is still found in "many evangelical hymnals .. It is a reminder of a Christian daily dependence upon the promises of God ..."