Monday, February 2, 2009

Philip P. Bliss

While reading about Horatio Spafford, I was blessed with the opportunity to learn about the life of Mr. Philip Bliss- the composer of the music to that hymn we all so love- "It Is Well With My Soul". Bliss was a friend of Spafford's, and when he returned to the States with the words God had given him, he asked Bliss to put the poem to music- and thank God for that.
Reading about another great man after God's heart did me good this morning, and Bliss's life reminded me of two important truths. No matter where we are, or how we feel- God is worthy to be worshiped, and God's plans and purposes are ALWAYS best.
Bliss was a powerful leader of worship, and accompanied Dwight Moody and many others as they lead revivals and evangelized all across the United States. One Sunday morning "he had no patience with lukewarm renditions of hymns sung by a thoughtless congregation: 'Let us remember, when we stand up in the congregation to sing, that we are either singing to the Lord or (is it possible?) taking His name in vain!" He reminded his fellow worshipers that God deserved are most heartfelt singing. Bliss also loved writing Sunday School songs in addition to the numerous adult hymns, because he said the children's love and faith in God inspired him. He asked his friends that doubted the necessity of hymns- how many sermons they remembered as a child, and how many hymns. The power of music is a gift from God.
In tragedy, Bliss and his wife died in a train accident on their way to sing at one of Moody's revivals in Chicago, orphaning their two toddler sons. The sadness weighed heavily on all that had known and loved Bliss, so when they found one of his last hymns that he had written- it brought them great comfort to remember how secure their friend was in Jesus, and they would indeed see him again:
"Why had God allowed him to die so young, so tragically? Philip's last hymn, "He Knows", found among his papers not long after the accident, answered the pain of those who loved him best:

So on I go, not knowing,
I would not if I might;
I'd rather walk in the dark with God
Than go alone in the light;
I'd rather walk by faith with Him
Than go alone by sight."

Taken from "Well with my Soul" by Rachael Philips

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