Behind the Hymn: Victory in Jesus
He was born on December 24, 1885 in Waynesville, Missouri. At a young age he relocated to Sabastian County, Arkansas where he grew up. He was educated as a music teacher at Hall-Moody Institute in Tennessee and William Jewell College in Missouri.
In 1917, he married Joan Tatum. The couple would have two children together.
In 1918, he established Hartford Music Company, which became one of the first publishing companies for Southern Gospel music. He served as company president from 1918 until 1935. In additional to establishing the music company, he also established a shape note school, the Hartford Music Institute in 1921 and began publishing a monthly quartet magazine, The Herald of Song.
Over the chorus of his career, Bartlett wrote more than 800 songs. Some of his songs include “Just a Little While,”
“Everybody Will Be Happy Over There,” “You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down,” and “Take an Old Cold Tater and Wait.”
In 1939, Bartlett had a stroke that left him partially paralyzed. After the stroke he was left virtually bed ridden. Although he missed traveling and performing, Bartlett continued to study his Bible during this difficult time. Although he dealt with the physical strains of his limitations, he also looked towards the eternal victory he knew was approaching.
During this difficult time after his stroke, he wrote the words to Victory in Jesus. The song first appeared in a songbook paperback “Gospel Choruses.”
Victory in Jesus was the final song Bartlett wrote. The hymn also became his best known and most embraced song. The song is an optimistic reminder of the hope of heaven. In the second stanza, there are references to the healing ministry of Christ.
The song has grown in popularity over the years and is published in most church hymnals and often requested in sing-a-longs.
Bartlett died on January 25, 1941. He is buried in the Oak Hill Cemetery in Benton County, Arkansas.
In 1973, he was inducted into the Gospel Music Association’s Gospel Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee.