It's true I love the hymns. I love playing them on the piano, singing them, hearing them, etc. Yes, I do enjoy new praise and worship music but am continually surprised by the development of lyrics of these "older" songs.
A few weeks ago, I was reading one of my most favorite devotionals of all time, Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions and was caught by surprise by a story tragic yet beautiful story about the life and legacy of Philip Bliss, author of the hymn "My Redeemer"
On December 28, 1876, the song's author (and wife) died at the age of 38 in a train wreck. Bliss and his wife were traveling from Rome, Pennsylvania to Chicago when the railroad bridge near Ashtabula, Ohio collapsed, sending all the carriages 60 ft below into the ravine. Bliss escaped from the wreck, but when the carriages caught fire and Bliss returned to try to extricate his wife. No trace of either body was discovered. Ninety-two of the 160 passengers are believed to have died in what became known as the Ashtabula River Railroad Disaster.
However, even in this tragedy an amazing testimony of God's love was discovered inside Bliss' trunk — a manuscript that included the lyrics of the only well-known hymn, "I Will Sing of My Redeemer." (see the full lyrics below)
As I read this surprising story about a song I have sang many times, I was awestruck and convicted. To think these lyrics were some of the last Bliss penned, maybe a tune was developing in his mind as the train crashed. No music was found with the lyrics, but another musician brought the words to life by writing a fitting melody. Bliss' words and a testimony of such wonderful love have since echoed through the halls of churches of all shapes an sizes. (A fun side note: this song is thought to be one of the first hymns recorded on the phonograph.)
What really captivates my heart is knowing that these were the final words Bliss "worked out" before heading to see his Creator and God who inspired the young author. In contrast, I wonder, what will be my last words. Maybe they won't echo through time as an amazing hymn or praise song, but hopefully they will honor my God and Savior who has walked with me through various seasons of life. For I have many reasons to sing and many more praises to be "jotted down" while here on this Earth.
I will sing of my Redeemer,
And His wondrous love to me;
On the cruel cross He suffered,
From the curse to set me free.
Sing, oh sing, of my Redeemer,
With His blood, He purchased me.
On the cross, He sealed my pardon,
Paid the debt, and made me free.
I will tell the wondrous story,
How my lost estate to save,
In His boundless love and mercy,
He the ransom freely gave.
I will praise my dear Redeemer,
His triumphant power I’ll tell,
How the victory He giveth
Over sin, and death, and hell.
I will sing of my Redeemer,
And His heav’nly love to me;
He from death to life hath brought me,
Son of God with Him to be.
About the Writers
Typically posts on this page are written by Jennifer Brown and often include fun stories about Josh as well. Occasionally, Josh might post too (when he feels daring!)