Scripture Verse

Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Psalm 90:1


Philip P. Bliss (1838–1876)

Words: Phi­lip P. Bliss (1838–1876).

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

Alternate Tune:

Arthur S. Sullivan (1842–1900)

Origin of the Song

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.