SURELY GOODNESS AND MERCY                                            written in 1958

The Story

Alfred B. Smith (1916-2001), a music publisher and songwriter, received a letter from a descendant of Philip Bliss, a 19th-century gospel composer. The letter told Al the story of how Philip Bliss learned the 23rd Psalm before he could read or write. Bliss’ teacher’s name was Miss Murphy, and little Philip learned the Psalm this way: “Surely, good Miss Murphy shall follow me all the days of my life”. Sometimes, the inspiration for a gospel song comes from strange places!

At the time Al received that letter, he was associated with composer John W. Peterson in one of the largest gospel-music companies of the mid-20th century. One day, Peterson was improvising at his piano as Al came into the room. “For no particular reason I can remember,” Peterson says, “we started to develop a new song”.

They thought about a new approach to Psalm 23. Al was apparently thinking of “Good Miss Murphy”, and John’s mind went back to his days in the air force during World War 2… when he often gave thanks to the Good Shepherd for taking care of His sheep. So, this song was born… emphasizing God’s goodness and mercy as well as God’s guidance through cold nights and lonesome valleys.

It’s such a fun song to sing!

The Song

            Read this hymn, and – today – pray it as your own personal testimony.

A pilgrim was I, and a wandering, in the cold night of sin I did roam,
when Jesus the kind Shepherd found me, and now I am on my way home.

Chorus:
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days, all the days of my life;
surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days, all the days of my life.

He restoreth my soul when I’m weary; He giveth me strength day by day;
He leads me beside the still waters; He guards me each step of the way. (Chorus)

When I walk through the dark lonesome valley, my Savior will walk with me there;
and safely His great hand will lead me to the mansions He’s gone to prepare. (Chorus)

Ending:
And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever,
and I shall feast at the table spread for me;
surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days, all the days of my life.

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