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The Billow of Fire, song lyrics

Song: The Billow of Fire
Lyrics: P. P. Bliss(1)

Music: P. P. Bliss
Year: 1877(2)
Genre: Traditional
Country: USA

Hark the alarm, the clang of the bells!
Signal of danger it rises and swells;
Flashes like lightning illumine the sky,
See the red glare as the flames mount on high!

Roll on, roll on, oh, billow of fire!
Dash with they fury waves higher and higher!
Ours is a mansion abiding and sure,
Ours is a kingdom eternal secure.
This song was originally posted on
On like a fiend in it's towering wrath,
On and destruction alone points the path,
"Mercy oh Heaven," the sufferers wail,
Feeble humanity naught can avail.


Thousands are homeless and quick to their cry,
Heaven born charity yields a supply,
Upward we glance in our terrible grief,
"Give us this day,"(4) brings the promised relief.


Treasures have vanished and riches have flown,
Hope for the present life blasted and gone,
Courage, oh, brother, yield not to despair,
"God is our refuge"(5) His kingdom we'll share.



1 - Transcribed from the sheet music published by Wm. A. Pond & Co., 547 Broadway, New York, NY.

2 - Philip Paul Bliss (1838-1876) biography from the Philip P. Bliss Gospel Songwriters Museum.

3 - The Great Fire of 1871 from the PBS program, American Experience. The great Chicago fire began late on Sunday evening, October 8, 1871 and ended the following Tuesday, October 10.

4 - An obvious reference to The Lord's Prayer, which includes the line, "Give us this day our daily bread".

5 - A reference to Psalm 46:1-3 "God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change..."

The cover of the sheet music starts with "Dedicated to Mr. D. L. Moody of Chicago. Dwight L. Moody was an Evangelist and publisher.

The cover of the sheet music then says "Written on the occasion of the Chichago fire, and singularly commemorative of the lamentable death of Mr. P. P. Bliss by the recent disaster at Ashtabula." That is a reference to him dying on December 29, 1876 in the Ashtabula River Railroad Disaster.