Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.@Psalm 90:1
portrait
Philip P. Bliss (1838–1876)

Phi­lip P. Bliss (1838–1876).

Con­stance (Sul­li­van) Ar­thur S. Su­ll­ivan, 1875 (🔊 pdf nwc).

portrait
Arthur S. Sullivan (1842–1900)

This song ap­pears in Bliss’ mem­oirs, pos­si­bly writ­ten af­ter he had moved his aged fa­ther to live near him in Rome, Penn­syl­van­ia:

During this per­i­od of his life at Rome, from the pro­ceeds of his sing­ing schools, [Bliss] saved up a few hund­red dol­lars, and bought a lit­tle cot­tage, to which he re­moved his parents, and for a time set up house­keeping.

The dear old fa­ther, who had passed most of his days in hum­ble homes in the back­woods, was now sixty-five years of age. The li­ttle cot­tage in Rome was a bet­ter home than he had ev­er lived in.

Many months his child­ren, Phil and Lou, had planned the sur­prise that await­ed him. They had saved in ev­ery pos­si­ble way to buy and plain­ly fur­nish the lit­tle home. When all was made rea­dy, Father Bliss was sent for.

The day of his ar­rival in Rome, he stopped at Fa­ther Young’s for din­ner. In the af­ter­noon, the hap­py child­ren took the gen­tle, laugh­ing, gray-haired old Chris­tian in the wag­on, and rid­ing along the one vi­llage street, asked him to pick out the house that they had se­lect­ed to be his home.

Two or three times he es­sayed to ex­press his choice, pick­ing out the hum­blest, and each time tak­ing a poor­er one, un­til at last he gave up, a lit­tle trou­bled that he might have been too am­bi­tious. When the hap­py Phil, al­most too full to con­tain him­self, turned the team, and driv­ing back up the street, stopped at a pret­ty lit­tle cot­tage, a neat pi­az­za in front, a large yard filled with blos­som­ing li­lacs and bud­ding apple trees.

It looked ve­ry beau­ti­ful; and as the strong man lift­ed his fa­ther from the wa­gon, it was a ve­ry hap­py hour to him, as he said, This is your home, fa­ther. The dear old man sat down in a chair placed for him up­on the stoop, and, with tears run­ning down his cheeks, said, Phil, I ne­ver ex­pect­ed to have so good a home on earth as this.

Here the last months of the life of the old saint passed away sweet­ly, peace­ful­ly and hap­pi­ly. The re­mem­brance of these, his last days, were al­ways ex­ceed­ingly pre­cious to Mr. and Mrs. Bliss. The bur­den of life in some de­gree rolled away, and he en­tered more in­to the sun­light that awaited him in full­ness in the life be­yond.

The first time I ever saw Fa­ther Bliss, Mrs. Bliss once told me, he re­proved me for laugh­ing on Sun­day. Brought up by a Pur­i­tan fa­ther, liv­ing in com­mun­ion with God, drink­ing dai­ly from the Bi­ble, the on­ly book he ev­er read, life was to him ve­ry sol­emn, and ev­ery­thing around him was re­lat­ed to God and to ete­rn­ity. His child­ren all felt this at­mo­sphere in their as­so­ci­ation with him, and none of them drank in more of the fa­ther’s sense of the re­al­i­ty of et­er­nal things than did his son.

There is a root and stalk for ev­ery beau­ti­ful flow­er that blooms, a spring for every flow­ing stream; and all that has given pow­er on the earth to Phi­lip Bliss’ songs finds its root in the Bi­ble of the He­brews, its stalk in the liv­ing char­ac­ters de­vel­oped by that Bi­ble among the Pur­i­tans. The stream of me­lo­dy that flowed through him, mak­ing glad the peo­ple of God, had its spring in the in­tense re­al­i­ty of spir­it­ual things that came down to him from a god­ly an­ces­try.

Dur­ing these months with his child­ren, the father laid aside ev­ery­thing of aus­ter­ity that had ev­er as­so­ci­at­ed it­self with him, and was like a ha­ppy child. Mr. Bliss oft­en thanked God for His good­ness in per­mit­ting him to have the joy of mak­ing his dear fa­ther hap­py, and of be­ing with him in his last days.

In Jan­u­a­ry, 1864, af­ter on­ly a few months in the home he thought so much bet­ter than he was en­ti­tled to, the fa­ther died, and was ta­ken to his Heav­en­ly home, to meet the great sur­prise of know­ing what God hath pre­pared for them that love Him.

There can be no more fitting close…to this [story] than the song of Mr. Bliss, writ­ten, much of it, from per­son­al re­col­lec­tion, and which he usu­al­ly pre­faced, in sing­ing, by a few re­marks about his fa­ther, and by say­ing, ve­ry de­vout­ly, I thank God for a god­ly an­ces­try.

Mem­oirs of Phi­lip P. Bliss, edit­ed by Dan­i­el W. Whit­tle (New York; Chi­ca­go, Il­li­nois; and New Or­leans, Lou­i­si­a­na (A. S. Barnes, 1877), pag­es 26–27

The Sabbath day—sweet day of rest—
Was drawing to a close;
The summer breeze went murmuring by,
To lull me to repose;
I took my father’s Bible down—
His father’s gift to him—
A treasure rare, beyond compare,
Though soiled the page, and dim.

Old friend, I said, if thou couldst tell,
What would thy memories be?

And from the Book there seemed to come
This evening reverie:
“Good will to men, Peace be to thee!
My mission aye hath been,
To tell the love of Him who died
To save a world from sin.

“A hundred years ago I sailed,
With those who sail no more,
Through perils dread; by land and sea,
I reached New England’s shore;
There, on a soul-worn, faithful band
This soothing psalm did fall:
Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place,
In generations all.

“Year after year, in temples rude,
Upon the desk I lay,
To teach of Him, the great High Priest;
The Life, the Truth, the Way.
And multitudes who listened there
To God’s life-giving word,
Are resting from their labors now,
‘For ever with the Lord.’

“Anon a lowly home I found,
But love and peace were there…
The children with the father read,
And knelt with him in prayer;
And through the valley, as one passed,
I heard her sweetly sing:
‘O Grave, where is thy victory?
O Death, where is thy sting?’

Hold fast the faith, the old Book said;
Thy father’s God adore…;
And on the Rock of Ages rest
The soul forever more.

Amen, said I, by grace I will,
Till at His feet we fall,
And join the everlasting song,
And crown Him Lord of all.
We’ll join the everlasting song,
And crown Him Lord of all.