Born in Pennsylvania in 1838, composer and singer Philip Paul Bliss worked as a farmer and woodcutter until 1855. After attending a singing school and later the Normal Academy of Music in Geneseo, N.Y., he began teaching music and composing songs in the mid 1860s. It was during this period that Bliss met composer and music educator George F. Root, who encouraged Bliss to continue his efforts at music composition. In 1865 Bliss began working for the music publishing house of Root & Cady of Chicago, which hired him to conduct musical conventions throughout the northwestern United States.
Bliss enjoyed a reputation as an able basso profundo soloist and chorister. With evangelists D.L. Moody and Daniel Whittle, Bliss toured the country for a time singing and even preaching. By the 1870s Bliss began to devote a great deal of energy to the composition of sacred music. Some of his earliest songs were set to music by his friend George F. Root, but he soon was composing words and music, and he had four collections of songs published. Philip Bliss and his wife, Lucy J. Young, died tragically in a railway disaster near Ashtabula, Ohio, on December 29, 1876.