Contagious Buoyancy

I don’t normally read old funeral sermons, let alone quote them. But yesterday while researching for Then Sings My Soul, Volume 3, I read the memorial service conducted for hymnist Philip Bliss after he and his wife were killed in a train wreck. Bliss was the gifted young man who gave us the hymns “I Will Sing of My Redeemer,” “Man of Sorrows, What a Name,” “The Light of the World is Jesus,” and “Jesus Loves Even Me.” He also wrote the stirring music for “It is Well with My Soul.”

Here’s what his pastor, Rev. E. P. Goodwin, said about him at his funeral. I found myself wanting to be more joyful because of these words.

I think I might safely call him the most joyous Christian I have ever known. It was a rare thing to see a shadow even transiently clouding his face… His hymns and music are full of hope and exultation. There is hardly a melancholy verse or strain among them all. Almost invariably both songs and music swell and grow jubilant as they move on. Hallelujahs ring all thorough them.

His buoyancy was contagious. I have known him, when a prayer meeting dragged, when very likely the minister was dispirited and others shared the feeling, to sweep his hand over the keys of the piano, and alike by touch and voice scatter the despondency….

This is what the Master wants us all to be, what the world greatly needs to see—buoyant, cheerful singing believers…. Many grumble far more than they give thanks. They forget the daily manna, the sufficient grace, the fellowship of the Spirit, the better country…. This ought not so to be. Dear brethren, let this life so overflowing with gladness help us to better things.

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