Frank Belden was one of the three most outstanding Seventh-day Adventist hymn writers. The other two were Annie R. Smith and Roswell F. Cottrell. Music wasn't Belden's only talent. In addition to artistic talent, he had good business sense. More than once he served as business manager for the Review and Herald Publishing Association. He also went into business for himself. His compositions numbered in the hundreds.
Twenty-three of Belden's hymns have been preserved in the Church Hymnal. He often wrote the music to go with his words. One of his hymns, "Look for the Beautiful, Look for the True," has found its way into the official hymnbook for the Brethren Church.
Annie R. Smith was a poet who wrote for magazines, including the Review and Herald. She wrote a number of hymns, eight of which are found in the Church Hymnal. Her consecrated life and talented pen made a definite impact on the church. But her work as a contributor was cut short when she fell prey to pulmonary tuberculosis. The disease progressed rapidly and she died at the age of twenty-four.
Roswell Cottrell, the third of the three most outstanding Seventh-day Adventist hymn writers, has three of his compositions in the Church Hymnal. Cottrell served as a corresponding editor at the Review and Herald Publishing Association. He also had experience in tent evangelism, as a tent master and occasional speaker. In the summer of 1856 he received $3 a week for performing these duties
Other early Adventist writers contributed one or more hymns to the repertoire of sacred songs we enjoy today. Time and space do not allow for much to be said about them. Some we know, others are buried in anonymity. Early Adventist believers were so concerned with the Second Advent and everything pertaining to it that they sang their music enthusiastically, and didn't worry too much about keeping records. So it is that the identity of some early writers has become lost.
Learning as much as one possibly can about our hymn writers is a fascinating pastime. A study into the circumstances that surrounded them when they were writing their hymns helps us better to appreciate the musical heritage they have passed on to us.