“Whosoever Will”

"And the Spirit and the bride say, Come….And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely" (Rev. 22.17)

     INTRO.: A song which emphasizes that the invitation to come and take of the water of life freely is extended to everyone is "Whosoever Will" (#264 in Hymns for Worship Revised and #602 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written and the tune (Whosoever) was composed both by Philip Paul Bliss (1838-1876). Born in a log cabin in Clearfield County, PA, Bliss became a traveling music teacher and songwriter. At first producing popular songs for the firm of Root and Cady in Chicago, IL, he eventually left secular music to join the campaign team of revival evangelist Dwight L. Moody as a song leader and hymnwriter. His well-known gospel songs include "Almost Persuaded," "Let the Lower Lights Be Burning," "Once For All," "Hallelujah! What A Savior," "More Holiness Give Me," "Wonderful Words Of Life," "Jesus Loves Even Me," "The Light of the Word Is Jesus," and "Hold the Fort;" tunes for "I Gave My Life For Thee" and "It Is Well With My Soul;" and the text to "My Redeemer."

     Many of Bliss’s songs were the result of his hearing sermons. During the winter of 1869 the English evangelist Henry Moorhouse conducted a series of meetings in Chicago and for seven consecutive services preached on the text John 3.16. Bliss attended these services, and may have even participated as song leader. From his experience in hearing these lessons, which gave Bliss a new, clearer view of the love of God, came "Whosoever Will." It was first published in George Frederick Root’s The Prize, published in 1870 by John Church and Co. of Cincinnati, OH. Four years later, Bliss included it in his own Gospel Songs. Two years after that, his death occurred as a result of a train wreck near Ashtabula, OH, while he and his wife were returning to Chicago after visiting with family in Pennsylvania.

     Among songbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1925 edition of the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1), the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2, and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 all edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater; and the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch. Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise all edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship, Sacred Selections, and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat. All of these books contain Bliss’s original, except Sacred Selections and Hymns for Worship which used an arrangement of the tune made in 1946 by Robert E. Winsett (1876-1952). .

     The song resounds with the universal nature of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I. Stanza 1 talks about the universal need
"’Whosoever heareth,’ shout, shout the sound!
Spread the blessed tidings all the world around;
Tell the joyful news wherever man is found:
‘Whosoever will may come.’"
 A. Whosoever hears should shout the sound to others that the works of God might be declared to the people: Isa. 12.4-6
 B. The blessed tidings of good things that result in salvation should be spread to all the world around: Rom. 10.13-15
 C. The joyful news should be told wherever man is found because Jesus wants the gospel to be preached to every creature under heaven: Mk. 16.15-16

II. Stanza 2 talks about the universal invitation
"Whosoever cometh need not delay;
Now the door is open, enter while you may.
Jesus is the true, the only Living Way:
‘Whosoever will may come.’"
 A. The invitation is to all who are weary and heavy laden to come to Jesus that they might find rest: Matt. 11.28-30
 B. Those who decide to come should not delay but rather enter while the door is open: Rev. 3.19-20
 C. We must remember that this invitation is based on the fact that Jesus is the true and only living way: Jn. 14.6

III. Stanza 3 talks about the universal blessings
"’Whosoever will!’ The promise secure;
‘Whosoever will’ forever must endure;
‘Whosoever will!’ ’tis life forevermore;
‘Whosoever will may come.’"
 A. For those who will come to Jesus, the promise that God offers us through His Son is secure: 2 Pet. 1.3-4
 B. However, this promise is not unconditional because those who have the promise must endure to receive: Heb. 6.13-15
 C. This promise is the hope of life evermore, or everlasting life, with God in heaven for all eternity: 1 Jn. 2.25

     CONCL.: The chorus reiterates the fact that the call of the gospel to come to the Lord for salvation is extended to the whole world.
"’Whosoever will, whosoever will!’
Send the proclamation over vale and hill;
‘Tis a loving Father calls the wanderer home:
‘Whosoever will may come.’
It is good to know that our God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance, so that His grace which brings salvation has appeared to all men. Knowing, therefore, that He wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth, we should be active in proclaiming the good news of salvation to "Whosever Will."


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