WONDERFUL WORDS OF LIFE                                                   written in 1874

The Story

As a child raised in a log cabin in rural Pennsylvania, Philip Bliss loved music. The only musical instrument he owned was a flute his father had whittled for him from his cane. Philip hoped to buy a cheap violin, so he picked a basket of berries in the swamps and sold them door-to-door. Hearing the music from a piano coming from one house, Philip went to the door and listened… until the pianist told the barefoot 10-year-old to go away.

2 decades later, Philip was directing the music in an evangelistic crusade led by Dwight L. Moody. Philip had become well-known for his singing voice… and for the gospel songs he wrote.

When Moody’s brother-in-law, Fleming H. Revell, was launching a new religious magazine, The Words of Life, he asked Philip to write a song for the first issue. Revell suggested both the title for the song, and the text – John 6:67,68.  In these verses, Jesus sees many of His followers walking away, and He asks His core of 12: “You do not want to also go away, do you?”  Peter answers on behalf of the group: “Lord, to whom should we go? Only You have the words of life.”

As Revell requested, Philip wrote this gospel song: “Wonderful Words of Life”.

A few years later, he wrote these words: “I car­ried that song through two sea­sons of evan­gel­is­tic work, ne­ver think­ing it pos­sessed much mer­it, or that it had the ele­ment of spe­cial use­ful­ness, par­ti­cu­lar­ly for so­lo pur­pos­es. It oc­curred to me to try it one day dur­ing the cam­paign in New Ha­ven, [Con­nec­ti­cut, 1878,] and, with the help of Mrs. Steb­bins, we sang it as a du­et. To our sur­prise the song was re­ceived with the great­est en­thu­si­asm and from that time on to the close of the meet­ings was the fa­vo­rite of all the hymns used. As an il­lus­tra­tion of the hold it got up­on the peo­ple all about that sect­ion of the count­ry, I re­ceived a let­ter from the Sec­re­ta­ry of the Con­nec­ti­cut State Sun­day School As­so­ci­a­tion of­fer­ing me what seemed an ab­surd­ly large sum of mon­ey, if I would, with Mrs. Steb­bins, come to the State Con­ven­tion and sing that one song.”

The Song

            Read this hymn, and – today – sing them over again… these wonderful words of life.

Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life,
let me more of their beauty see, wonderful words of life;
words of life and beauty teach me faith and duty.


Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life,
Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life.

Christ, the blessed One, gives to all wonderful words of life;
sinner, list to the loving call, wonderful words of life;
all so freely given, wooing us to Heaven.  (Refrain)

Sweetly echo the Gospel call, wonderful words of life;
offer pardon and peace to all, wonderful words of life;
Jesus, only Savior, sanctify us forever.  (Refrain)


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