Hallelujah, What a Saviour! - Philip P. Bliss

Philip P. Bliss wrote both the words and music for “Hallelujah, What a Saviour!”  He was one of the best-known and beloved musicians in his day, frequently singing in D. L. Moody’s services in Chicago. Bliss’ singing was so well-received that Moody suggested that he consider being a song evangelist. In 1874 he became song leader for the well-known evangelist, Major D. W. Whittle, until Bliss died in a train accident two years later.  He was one of the most influential gospel hymn-writers of the second half of the nineteenth century. He wrote and published hundreds of gospel hymns, many times writing both the words and the music. 


Hallelujah, What a Saviour!” was written in 1875, shortly before his death. The famous gospel song-writer and singer, Ira D. Sankey, wrote concerning the song: “A few weeks before his death,   

Mr. Bliss visited the State Prison at Jackson, Michigan, where, after a very touching address on The Man of Sorrows, he sang this hymn with great effect. Many of the prisoners dated their conversion from that day.”   

The song clearly depicts Christ’s suffering and work of atonement as described by the prophet Isaiah:  He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  (Isaiah 53:3) The first four stanzas give a powerful account of the gospel. The “Son of God” descended to earth to become a “Man of Sorrows” to reclaim lost sinners. Salvation is personal as Jesus stood condemned in “my” place, guaranteeing “my” pardon with his shed blood. Jesus, the "spotless Lamb of God," took the punishment for mankind, the "guilty, vile and helpless we” providing full atonement for all who believe. When Christ died on the cross, crying “It is finished,” He defeated death and now reigns “in heav’n exalted high.” 


The last stanza has quite a different mood: looking forward to Christ’s return when all the redeemed will proclaim anew,  “Hallelujah, What a Saviour!” In every language the word "Hallelujah" means to praise the Lord. Each short stanza ends with a voice of overwhelming praise, connecting the cross with the victory of the risen and reigning Lord. 


When leading this gospel hymn, famous evangelistic song leaders of the past suggested that the first four stanzas be sung in a meditative manner with gradual crescendo to the refrain: “Hallelujah, What a Saviour!” The last stanza is then sung triumphantly, making sure to have a break between the two phrases of the refrain. Some believe this should be sung only at the Lord’s Supper, but Christians should reflect on Christ the Saviour and His promised return at any time. 



“Man of sorrows,” what a name 
For the Son of God, who came, 
Ruined sinners to reclaim! 
Hallelujah, what a Saviour! 
Bearing shame and scoffing rude, 
In my place condemned he stood; 
Sealed my pardon with his blood: 
Hallelujah, what a Saviour! 
Guilty, vile and helpless, we; 
Spotless Lamb of God, was he, 
“Full atonement,” can it be? 
Hallelujah, what a Saviour! 
Lifted up was he to die, 
“It is finished,” was his cry, 
Now in heav’n exalted high; 
Hallelujah, what a Saviour! 
When he comes, our glorious King, 
All his ransomed home to bring, 
Then anew this song we’ll sing: 
Hallelujah, what a Saviour! 


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Terrific “article.” Thank you!

Jim McNew

What a Savior! Glory!!!


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