Samford University The BelltowerOctober 2003

Sunday Afternoon Hymn Sing October 5 to Feature Works of Philip P. Bliss

Under the direction of legendary gospel musician Dick Baker of Dallas, Texas, the program will pay tribute to the life and works of Philip Paul Bliss, who has been described as ‘one of God’s gifts to modern Christian music.

Auxiliary members and friends are cordially invited, along with Samford students and others, to participate in a special musical program featuring some of the greatest hymns of the ages Sunday, October 5, at 2 p.m. in Reid Chapel.

Under the direction of legendary gospel musician Dick Baker of Dallas, Texas, the program will pay tribute to the life and works of Philip Paul Bliss, who has been described as "one of God's gifts to modern Christian music." The Campus Ministry Choir and other special musicians will participate.

Additionally, Samford's president and first lady, Dr. Thomas E. and Marla Corts, will share some stirring episodes in the life of Bliss and his compositions, including the tragic train wreck in Ashtabula, Ohio, in 1876 that killed the young musician and his wife.

The Cortses have a special interest in the life of Bliss, since Ashtabula is their hometown. President Corts has noted that Bliss was a gifted musician whose gospel songs were widely appreciated in Britain, America and other parts of the world, and are still enjoyed today. With a joyful countenance, a fine voice and a devoted heart, Bliss dedicated his talents to the Lord's work. He caught the eye of famous evangelist D. L. Moody in the early 1870s, and the two became friends.

Renewed interest in the songs of Bliss has been fostered by Corts through his research and printing of the volume, Songs of Bliss, A 125th Year Remembrance of Songwriter Philip Paul Bliss. In the foreword, Dr. Corts writes: "While time, setting and the fashion of the day always impact the popularity of music, some Bliss songs were wildly popular in given timeframes ('Hold the Fort' in the period after the Civil War). Other Bliss compositions seem strangely plaintive in our day ('Father, I'm Tired'). Still, most modern hymnals include several Bliss songs even 125 years after their composition."

Bliss and his wife accompanied Evangelist D. W. Whittle to Alabama in March and April of 1876 before their tragic deaths in December of that same year. Of their meeting at Government Street Presbyterian Church in Mobile, The Mobile Register reported the crowd as "the largest congregation ever gathered in a church in Mobile," estimated at 1,500, with half again as many turned away.

About Bliss and Whittle in Alabama, The Alabama Baptist concluded in an editorial May 4, 1876: "Why should not such men as Whittle and Bliss be found in every church? They are not distinguished for their learning, nor for their eloquence, but for their earnestness and zeal; for their energy and devotion in working for Jesus."

Auxiliary members are encouraged to mark their calendars for this opportunity to celebrate some the greatest and enduring hymns of the Christian faith.

Campus Safety and student leaders will direct participants to parking and to Reid Chapel.

Ten Most Popular Bliss Hymns and Songs

Almost Persuaded, 1871
Hallelujah, What a Savior, 1875
I Gave My Life for Thee, 1859
It Is Well with My Soul, 1873
I Will Sing of My Redeemer, 1876
Jesus Loves Even Me, 1871
Let the Lower Lights Be Burning, 1873
The Light of the World Is Jesus, 1875
Whosoever Will, 1870
Wonderful Words of Life, 1874

More info about... Christian Biography Resources: P.P. Bliss (non-Samford link)

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