Energize, Teach and Celebrate with the Powerful “Wonderful Words of Life”
"Wonderful Words of Life" is a familiar hymn among churchgoers in every church.
This Bible-themed hymn is a masterpiece by Philip P(aul) Bliss (1838-1876). Bliss is a musician and educator who created inspirational hymns and songs in the last century and a half.
Bliss is not just an educator. He wore many hats: he was a composer, conductor, hymn writer and a bass-baritone singer. He made 11 hymn masterpieces. They include "Almost Persuaded", "Hallelujah, What a Saviour!", "Let the Lower Lights Be Burning", and this hymn, "Wonderful Words of Life." His hymns reflect his work with the evangelistic revival meetings with Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899) and Daniel Webster "Major" Whittle (1840-1901). He started as gospel singers in the gospel era of hymnody with his wife, Lucy. The couple is part of travelling evangelists in the Midwestern and southern United States. Their travels became the foundation of Bliss' work. The Bliss couple sang this hymn as a duet, and it immediately became popular among people as they travel.
Bliss' early life in Pennsylvania was filled with learning and working. He was born with a musician's heart. One of his music teachers was William B. Bradbury (1816-1868), who made the tunes for Jesus Loves Me and He Leadeth Me.
In "Wonderful Words of Life", Bliss made use of different poetic devices. One of them is repetition. Repetition is evident by the many methods of "wonderful words" eighteen times while "wonderful words of life" was mentioned twelve times. Personification is another example. "Words" alludes to teachers who help ordinary folk to get closer to Christ. These poetic devices reinforce and teach the hymn's message. Also, they add to the hymn's narrative and singability.
Bliss emphasized the words of Scripture and the "gospel call". His hymns act as a persuasive sermon to listeners, the "sinners". This hymn concludes with a powerful prayer that acknowledges Jesus as our Savior and sanctifying him forever.
Tragedy struck when the couple was killed in a railway disaster near Ashtabula, Ohio, on December 29, 1876. It was reported that Bliss survived, but he came back for his wife. Despite the tragedy, Bliss and his wife's lives and memories live in his hymns.