Hymn of the Month


I Will Sing of My Redeemer

Author: Philip P. Bliss, 1838 - 1876
Composer: James McGranahan, 1840 - 1907
Written: 1876

For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. -I Corinthians 6:20

Philip P. Bliss was born in a Pennsylvania log cabin in 1838 where his father led in daily prayer and where music was the primary entertainment. As a result, he found himself drawn to both the Lord Jesus and to music at an early age. He left home as a young boy to make a living by working on farms and in lumber camps, all while trying to continue his schooling. He was converted at a revival meeting at age twelve. Bliss became an itinerant music teacher in 1860, sometimes traveling on horseback, while continuing his studies at the Normal Academy of Music in Genesco, NY. He worked for four years as a staff composer and editor of gospel song collections. His first song was published in 1864. His career direction became clearer in 1868 when he and his wife Lucy became associated with Chicago evangelist Dwight L. Moody who encouraged Bliss and Lucy to become evangelistic singers as members of Moody’s revival singing team. Bliss and Moody’s famous musician, Ira D. Sankey published a popular series of hymn collections in 1875 and 1876. For the last two years of his life Bliss traveled with evangelist Major D. W. Whittle and led the music at revival meetings in the Midwest and Southern United States.

Bliss and his wife, Lucy died in a bridge-failed train wreck near Ashtabula, Ohio in December,1876, en route to sing for a revival led by Whittle in Chicago at the Moody Tabernacle. He was thirty-eight. 

Bliss’ trunk finally arrived in Chicago safely. In it were found the words to the last hymns he had written, one of which was:

I will sing of my Redeemer;
And His wondrous love for me;
On the cruel cross he suffered,
From the curse to set me free.

James McGranahan, composer of the hymn, loved music and his father let him attend singing school. He became a noted musician and hymns composer. He and Phillip Bliss were friends and shortly before he died, Bliss encouraged McGranahan to use his voice to serve God in ministry. McGranahan traveled to Ashtabula, OH after the train accident and met Major Whittle for the first time in person. Whittle thought upon meeting McGranahan that here is the man Bliss has chosen to replace him in evangelism. The men returned to Chicago and prayed about the matter. McGranahan gave up his post office job and served the next 11 years with Whittle evangelizing in the United States, Great Britain and Ireland.   

Bliss was a prolific writer of gospel songs throughout his brief lifetime. His songs are strong in emotional appeal with tunes that are easily learned and sung. Other hymns by Bliss include “Jesus Loves Even Me”, “I Gave My Life for Thee”, “Dare to Be a Daniel,” and “Hallelujah! What A Savior” (Hymn of the Month April 2022). He also composed the tune for “It Is Well With My Soul.” (Hymn of the Month January 2016) 

Taken from Then Sings My Soul Keepsake Edition by Robert J. Morgan Copyright © 2011 Robert J. Morgan. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson

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Philip P. Bliss, 1838 – 1876