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On a Hymnsong of Philip Bliss

From Wind Repertory Project
David Holsinger

David Holsinger


General Info

Year: 1876 / 1989
Duration: c. 4:45
Difficulty: III (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: TRN Music
Cost: Score and Parts - $65.00    |    Score Only - $8.00


Instrumentation

Full Score
Flute
Oboe
Bassoon
Bb Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
Bb Bass Clarinet
Alto Saxophone I-II
Tenor Saxophone
Baritone Saxophone
Bb Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II
Trombone I-II-III
Euphonium
Tuba
Timpani
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Cymbals (crash and suspended)
  • Snare Drum
  • Triangle


Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

On A Hymnsong Of Philip Bliss is a radical departure of style of this composer. The frantic tempos, the ebullient rhythms we associate with Holsinger are replaced with a restful, gentle, and reflective composition based on the 1876 Philip Bliss-Horatio Spafford hymn, It Is Well with My Soul. Written to honor the retiring principal of Shady Grove Christian Academy, On A Hymnsong Of Philip Blis' was presented as a gift from the SGCA Concert Band to Rev. Steve Edel in May of 1989.

Horatio G. Spafford, a Chicago Presbyterian layman and successful businessman, planned a European trip for his family in 1873. In November of that year, due to unexpected last minute business developments, he had to remain in Chicago; but he sent his wife and four daughters on ahead as scheduled aboard the S.S. Ville du Havre. He expected to follow in a few days. On November 22, the ship was struck by the Lochearn, an English vessel, and sank in twelve minutes. Several days later the survivors were finally landed in Cardiff, Wales, and Mrs. Spafford cabled her husband, “Saved alone.” Shortly afterward, Spafford left by ship to join his bereaved wife.

It is speculated that on the sea near the area where it was thought his four daughters had drowned, Spafford penned this text with words so significantly describing his own personal grief, “When sorrows like sea billows roll...” It is noteworthy, however, that Spafford does not dwell on the theme of life’s sorrows and trials, but focuses attention in the third stanza on the redemptive work of Christ. Humanly speaking, it is amazing that one could experience such personal tragedy and sorrow as did Horatio Spafford and still be able to say with such convincing clarity, “It is well with my soul...”

Hymnwriter Philip Bliss was so impressed with the experience and expression of Spafford’s text that he shortly wrote the music for it, first published in 1876. Bliss was a prolific writer of gospel songs throughout his brief lifetime, and in most cases he wrote both the words and the music. This hymn is one of the few exceptions.

There is speculation that this was perhaps the last gospel song written by Bliss. Bliss and his wife, Lucy, were killed in a train wreck in Ashtabula, Ohio, on December 29, 1876. Most sources mention that Bliss actually escaped from the flames first, but was then killed when he went back into the train to try to rescue is wife. Neither body was ever found.

As a postscript, Bliss’s trunk was salvaged from the wreckage, and in it, evangelist D. W. Whittle found an unfinished hymn, which began, “I know not what awaits me, God kindly veils my eyes...”

- Program Note by composer


Words to the hymn "It is Well with My Soul":

It Is Well with My Soul

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But Lord, 'tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Commercial Discography


State Ratings

  • Florida: III
  • North Carolina: III
  • Texas: III
  • Virginia: III
  • Georgia: IV
  • Louisiana: III
  • Maryland: III
  • North Carolina: III
  • South Carolina: IV
  • Minnesota: III
  • Iowa: III
  • Arkansas: II


Performances

To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Messiah College (Mechanicsburg, Penn.) Symphonic Winds (Travis Weller, conductor) – 8 November 2019
  • Arizona State University (Tempe) Wind Ensemble (Dylan Suehiro, conductor) – 4 November 2019
  • Philadelphia (Penn.) Wind Symphony (Paul Bryan, conductor) – 26 October 2019
  • Tremper High School (Kenosha, Wisc.) Concert Band (Kathryn Ripley, conductor) – 14 May 2019
  • Hancock College (Santa Maria, Calif.) Concert Band (Garson Olivieri, conductor) – 11 May 2019
  • Cheshire (Conn.) High School Symphonic Band (John L. Kuhner, conductor) – 9 May 2019
  • Boston University (Mass.) Concert Band (Jennifer Bill, conductor) – 30 April 2019
  • Trine University (Angola, Ind.) Wind Ensemble (Mark Kays, conductor)– 28 April 2019
  • University of Illinois (Champaign) Campus Concert Band (Barry L. Houser, conductor) - 25 April 2019
  • Western Illinois University (Macomb) Concert Band (Brianna Haas, conductor) – 23 April 2019
  • Bullard High School (Fresno, Calif.) Symphonic Band (Jacob Cardona, conductor) – 12 April 2019 (2019 San Joaquin Valley (Calif.) Concert Band Invitational)
  • Beaver County Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Ambridge, Penn.) (Kevin Newton, conductor) – 27 March 2019
  • Bullard (Calif.) High School Symphonic Band (Jacob Cardona, conductor) - 17 March 2019 (2019 Sutherland Wind Festival (Fresno, Calif.)
  • Valencia (Calif.) High School Concert Band (Mark Judd, conductor)– 17 March 2019 (Carnegie Hall, New York)
  • University of Arkansas (Fayetteville) White Concert Band (Tom Pardue, conductor) – 4 March 2019
  • Sacramento (Calif.) Symphonic Winds (Tim Smith, conductor) – 9 December 2018
  • Manhattan Wind Ensemble (New York, N.Y.) (Sarah Fernandez, conductor) – 8 December 2018
  • San Luis Obispo (Calif.) Wind Orchestra (Jennifer Martin, conductor) – December 1 2018
  • Oak Ridge (Tenn.) Community Band/Wind Ensemble (Shaun Salem, conductor) – 18 November 2018
  • Baldwin-Wallace College (Berea, Ohio) Symphonic Band (Brendan Caldwell, conductor) – 9 November 2018
  • Greenwich (Conn.) High School Wind Ensemble (Jason Polise, conductor) – 17 October 2018
  • University of Central Florida (Orlando) Symphonic Band (Jason Cumberledge, conductor) - 3 March 2016

Works for Winds by this Composer


Resources

  • Eastvold, Jared. (2007). An Examination of Works for Wind Band Masters Report.
  • Miles, Richard B., and Larry Blocher. (2010). Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 1. Chicago: GIA Publications. pp. 341-349.