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Philip P. Bliss: A Biographical Sketch

by John Brownlie

P. P. BlissPhilip P. Bliss was born July 9, 1838, at Clearfield County, Pennsylvania. When quite young he joined himself to the Baptists, but his life was latterly spent with the Methodists. He had a wonderful gift of song. He could not only write stirring Gospel songs, but he could compose suitable and attractive music for them. No American hymn-writer is better known in this country. Mr. Sankey has much to do with his popularity, having introduced many of his hymns to the British public at revival services held over the United Kingdom in 1874. Some of those hymns only require to be named in order to be remembered both in their words and music. Almost persuaded now to believe; Whosoever heareth, shout, shout the sound; Light in the darkness, sailor; Only an armour-bearer; Standing by a purpose true; Ho, my comrades, see the signal; and many more. Indeed, the greater number of the Gospel Songs and Solos sung by Mr. Sankey in this country [England] were the compositions of Mr. Bliss. Literary merit there is little or none in these hymns, but they must be judged by other standards. They have been wonderfully blessed to the awaking of the careless and thoughtless.

God is always near me,

is the only hymn by this author in The Church Hymnary [Church of Scotland hymnal first published 1899], a very simple and direct expression of the omnipresence of God.

Mr. Bliss met death by accident on December 29, 1876. He was travelling towards Chicago, when at Ashtabula, Ohio, a railway bridge gave way and the whole train was thrown into the stream below. Mr. Bliss might have escaped, but in an endeavour to rescue his wife from the flaming car he was lost.

From The Hymns and Hymn Writers of the Church Hymnary by John Brownlie. London: Henry Frowde, [1899?].

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