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and invited him to help in his
meetings when he was in Chicago.
Later, Moody persuaded him to go
full time as a singing evangelist.
After joining Moody’s ministry,
Bliss continued to author Gospel
Hallelujah, ‘Tis Done!
Hold the Fort
Jesus Loves Even Me
Whosoever Will May Come
Let the Lower Lights Be Burning
O n occasion, Philip Bliss traveled
with Moody, ministering
in music at his meetings. In one
of those meetings in one of his
messages, Mr. Moody told the story
of a shipwreck. He said, “On a dark
stormy night, a large passenger
boat cautiously edged toward the
Cleveland harbor. The pilot knew
that he could only find the harbor
channel by keeping two lower shore
lights in line with the main beacon.
‘Are you sure this is Cleveland?’
asked the captain. ‘Quite sure, Sir,’
replied the pilot. ‘Where are the
lower lights?’ he asked. ‘Gone out,
Sir!’ was the reply. The pilot turned
the wheel, but in the darkness,
he missed the channel. The boat
crashed on the rocks and many lives
were lost that night.” Mr. Moody’s
It is not recorded, but without
doubt, Philip and Lucy exchanged
loving glances. Their eyes revealed
hearts full of love for each other. The
woman sitting beside him had been
faithful and true. On his wedding
day, Philip wrote in his diary, “June
1, 1859 — married to Miss Lucy J.
Young, the very best thing I could
have done.” Lucy had been all that
a wife could be. She had been his
support, his loving wife, and now
mother to his children. Those 18
years had flown by. Lucy was a great
Christian woman with similar talent
to his own. They had sung beautiful
duets together in evangelistic
services. Lucy shared his heart.
closing words were, “Brethren, the
Master will take care of the great
lighthouse; let us keep the lower
Suddenly, those thoughts
lights burning.” At the next meeting
were jolted as the rail car
with Mr. Moody, Philip Bliss sang a
jerked violently from one
new song, “Let the Lower Lights Be
direction to another!
Burning.” 1 The song was published
in 1874 and was a favorite hymn of As the locomotive approached
Ashtabula, it was necessary to cross
t was March of 1874 when a ravine three or four hundred
Philip Bliss made a decision to yards east of the station. The train
give Christ everything. He would was crossing the trestle bridge over
write no more secular music nor the Ravine when there was a loud
be engaged in secular business. He crackling noise. The clacking sound
would sing and write for Christ of the wheels moving down the
alone. Philip Bliss could not know track momentarily ceased but then
that in 30 months he would be in they were instantly replaced by
the sound of tearing metal and the
eternity. Before boarding the train for terrible cracking sound of breaking
Chicago in 1876, Philip and wood beams. Under the weight of
Lucy had left their two the falling snow, the railway bridge
children, George (4) and was collapsing!
I Philip (1) with family The record states the following:
in Rome, Pennsylvania.
Two locomotives hauling 11
The train was running
railcars of the Lake Shore and
three hours late due to
Michigan Southern Railway,
the blinding snowstorm
carrying 159 passengers,
and a 40-mile-an-hour
plunged into the river in deep
gale. The temperature
snow when the bridge gave
was hovering around 10
way beneath them…. The
degrees below zero.
accident killed 92 people,
including the gospel singer
Ed Reese, “Philip Bliss,” Christian Hall of Fame Series, www.wholesome words.org/biography/
bioblisss.html (accessed June 13, 2019).
inside under the ironwork of the out under the bridge at Ashtabula,
seats, he re-entered in an attempt to Ohio, but still they live. For over 140
years, the sweet sound of his hymns
The 11 rail cars plunged 70 feet down free her. He died by her side.
into the freezing river below. The rail The night before that terrible have echoed around the world with…
cars were equipped with kerosene railroad accident at Ashtabula,
heaters, which exploded turning the he said to his audience, “I may
not pass this way again,” then he
wooden cars into infernos.
Some records state that Philip Bliss sang a solo, “I’m Going Home
survived the initial impact making Tomorrow.”
and hymn-writer Philip Bliss
and his wife. 2
it out of the burning car. Afterward,
realizing Lucy was still trapped
The beautiful voices of Philip and
Lucy Bliss were seemingly snuffed
Whosoever Will May
Come! “Ashtabula River Railroad Disaster,” en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashtabula_River_railroad_disaster (June 13, 2019). Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
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