December 29

Phillipp Bliss died on this day in 1876, at the young age of 38. His name was originally spelled with 3 p’s and 2 l‘s – “Phillipp, ” but he didn’t like the spelling so he chopped it down and chopped it apart to Philip P. Bliss. Eventually he was known simply as P.P. Bliss. He was born in Rome (Pennsylvania) in 1838. When he was 12 he was born again, and after his immersion he joined the Baptist church at Tioga, Pennsylvania. Following his marriage to a talented poet/musician, he fought in the Civil War, before moving to Chicago to become a music writer, publisher and singer. He often assisted D.L. Moody and others in their evangelistic campaigns.
In December 1876, after having spent some time with his mother and sister, Bliss and his wife were headed back to Chicago on the Pacific Express when a bridge collapsed near Ashtabula, Ohio and the train plunged 60 feet into a ravine, where the steam locomotive exploded. Philip escaped through a window, but when he couldn’t find his wife, he crawled back into the burning rail car where he found her trapped, and there they died together.
P.P. Bliss wrote hundreds of hymns, many of which are still being sung regularly. Different people might select different Bliss hymns as their favorite, but at this point in my life, I think my favorite Bliss hymn would be “It is Well with My Soul.”