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 Philip Paul Bliss, Sr

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Philip Paul Bliss, Sr

Birth
Penfield, Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, USA
Death 29 Dec 1876 (aged 38)
Ashtabula, Ashtabula County, Ohio, USA
Burial Ashtabula, Ashtabula County, Ohio, USA
Plot Mass grave
Memorial ID 6686193 · View Source
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Singer, Music Teacher, and Hymn Composer. A prolific songwriter, he is best remembered for composing the words and music to the classic Gospel hymns "Hold the Fort!" (1870), "Jesus Loves Even Me" (1870), "Almost Persuaded" (1871), "Let the Lower Lights Be Burning" (1871), "Pull for the Shore" (1873), "Wonderful Words of Life" (1874), "Halleujah, What a Savior" (1875), and the music to Horatio G. Spafford's lyrics "It Is Well with My Soul" (1876). Born into simple means, his father was a Methodist who instilled prayer and the love for music in his family. His family moved to Kinsman, Ohio in 1844, and then returned to Pennsylvania three years later, settling first in Espeyville, Crawford County, and a year later in Tioga County. Growing up. he had little formal education and was taught by his mother, from the Bible. He first heard a piano at the age of 10, while selling vegetables to help support the family. The following year he left home to make his own living, working in timber camps and sawmills. While working, he irregularly went to school to further his education. In 1855 he finished his requirements to teach and the following year he became a schoolmaster at Hartsville, New York, doing farm work during the summer. In 1857 he met J. G. Towner, who taught singing and after recognizing his talent, he gave him his first formal voice training. He also met musician and hymn composer William B. Bradbury, who persuaded him to become a music teacher, and in 1858, he took up an appointment at the Rome Academy in Rome, Pennsylvania. The same year, he met his wife, Lucy J. Young, who came from a musical family who encouraged the development of his talent, and they were married the following year. At age of 22, he became an itinerant music teacher, travelling from community to community on horseback, accompanied by a melodeon. His wife's grandmother loaned him money to attend the Normal Academy of Music of New York for six weeks. After completing his schooling, he became recognized as an expert within his local area. In 1864 he and his family moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he became known as a singer and teacher, and began writing Gospel hymns. He was drafted for service in the Union Army, but because the war was almost over, his notice was canceled after only a few weeks. Shortly after the war, he went on a concert tour, but it failed. He was offered a position at Root and Cady Musical Publishers, working there from 1865 until 1873. He conducted musical conventions, singing schools and concerts for his employers. He continued to compose Gospel hymns, which were often printed in his employer's books. In 1869 he formed an association with evangelist and publisher Dwight L. Mood, who encouraged him to give up his job and become a missionary singer and in 1874, he became a full-time evangelist. He profited well from his from royalties of his hymns and gave them to charity and to support his evangelical endeavors. On December 29, 1876, the Pacific Express train on which he and his wife were traveling in approached Ashtabula, Ohio. While the train was in the process of crossing a trestle bridge, it collapsed and all the carriages fell into the ravine below. He escaped from the wreck, but the carriages caught fire and he returned to try to extricate his wife and died in the process, at the age of 38. Ninety-two of the 160 passengers are believed to have been killed in what became known as the Ashtabula River Railroad Disaster, and they were buried in a common grave marked by a cenotaph in the Ashtabula Cemetery and a second cenotaph was erected at the Rome Cemetery in his home town. Phillip and Lucy's home in Rome, Pennsylvania, was turned into the Phillip Paul Bliss Gospel Songwriter's Museum. His published songbooks include "The Charm" (1871), "The Song Tree) (1872, a collection of parlor and concert music), "The Sunshine for Sunday Schools" (1873), "The Joy" (1873, for conventions and for church choir music), "Gospel Songs" (1874, for Gospel meetings and Sunday schools), "Gospel Hymns and Sacred Songs" (1875), and "Gospel Hymns No. 2" (1876), the last two being edited by gospel hymn writer Ira D. Sankey.

Bio by: William Bjornstad


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Cinnamonntoast4
  • Added: 14 Aug 2002
  • Find A Grave Memorial 6686193
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Philip Paul Bliss, Sr (9 Jul 1838–29 Dec 1876), Find A Grave Memorial no. 6686193, citing Chestnut Grove Cemetery, Ashtabula, Ashtabula County, Ohio, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .