Hallelujah, What a Savior!

Philip Bliss and Lucy Young were married on June 1, 1859. Philip, only twenty years old, had a remarkable talent for music. Lucy, knowing how talented her husband was, schemed for ways to afford him proper musical training. With her encouragement, he began traveling on an old horse from town to town, carrying a twenty-dollar melodeon and holding singing schools. When Lucy’s grandmother gave them thirty dollars, Philip attended a six-week course at the Normal Academy of Music in New York. Upon completion, he became a full-time music teacher and was soon recognized as a local music authority. Philip and Lucy moved to Chicago so he could pursue a ministry of music there. Between 1865 and 1873, he held music conventions, singing schools, and church meetings. In 1869, he attracted the attention of evangelist D. L. Moody, who continually urged him to enter the full-time ministry of music.

With Lucy’s encouragement, Philip joined Moody’s associate, Major Daniel W. Whittle, as a song leader in a series of evangelistic campaigns; and “Whittle and Bliss” became incredibly famous, holding successful crusades throughout the United States.

By 1876, Philip, only thirty-six, was known as one of the greatest hymnists of his generation; penning classic hymns such as, “Wonderful Words of Life,” “I Will Sing of My Redeemer,” and the music to “It Is Well with My Soul.” Late that year, Philip conducted a service for inmates at the Michigan State Prison and sang one of his last hymns, “Hallelujah, What a Savior!”

No one dreamed that both Philip and Lucy would pass away one month later.

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  1. “Man of sorrows!” what a name for the Song of God who came;
    Ruined sinners to reclaim! Hallelujah! What a Savior!
  2. Bearing shame and scoffing rude, In my place condemned He stood;
    Sealed my pardon with His blood; Hallelujah! What a Savior!
  3. Guilty, vile, and helpless we, Spotless Lamb of God was He;
    Full atonement! Can it be? Hallelujah! What a Savior!
  4. Lifted up was He to die; “It is finished!” was His cry;
    Now in heaven exalted high, Hallelujah! What a Savior!
  5. When He comes, our glorious King. All His ransomed home to bring,
    Then anew this song we’ll sing, Hallelujah! What a Savior!

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I always imaged what it would be like to go to an Ivy League school and be an Art History Major. I love art. Every city I visit, I make it a point to scope out the art galleries. Seeing the images on canvas straight from the brains of the different artists is amazing to me. The amount of creativity and design that goes into each painting or sculpture makes me realize that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Imagine that you had a room full of artists and their only instruction was to paint a picture of Jesus using the phrase “Man of Sorrows” as their inspiration. What would be depicted on these paintings? You might see Jesus on a cross wearing a crown of thorns. You might also see the nails that pierced his hands and feet, the place where the sword pierced his side with the blood running down. What would be the expression on His face?  What would the expression be on yours when you saw this depiction?

Would you grimace at the thought of the sound of the nails going into His hands and feet? Would you immediately begin to think about how he was spat upon, mocked, and insulted?  Would you begin to weep when think about the suffering and humiliation that He endured while He, the sinless Son of God, took upon our sins on the cross so that we might one day have everlasting life with Him in eternity?

Personally, I would hope that you would rejoice.

Rejoice?! Why would I rejoice while looking at a picture of my Savior on the cross??

Why should we rejoice? Because that’s not our God. Our God is no longer on a cross. Our God is alive and we’re forgiven! The gates of Heaven are ready to burst wide open when He comes back to take us to our home on high. It’s going to happen, folks. And I’m ready. Are you?

What a message of hope Philip Bliss brought to us in this beautiful hymn!

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