Behind the Hymn: There Shall Be Showers of Blessings
There Shall Be Showers of Blessings was written by Major Daniel Webster Whittle. He was born in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts on November 22, 1840.
After moving to Chicago in 1857, he began to attend a Congregational church and joined a Bible class. In 1862, he married Abbie Hanson.
He wrote of his conversion during the Civil War in the book Twice Born Men:
When the Civil War broke out, I left my home in New England and came to Virginia as lieutenant of a company in a Massachusetts regiment. My dear mother was a devout Christian, and parted from me with many a tear, and followed me with many a prayer. She had placed a New Testament in a pocket of the haversack that she arranged for me.
We had many engagements, and I saw many sad sights, and in one of the battles I was knocked out, and that night my arm was amputated above the elbow. As I grew better, having a desire for something to read, I felt in my haversack, which I had been allowed to keep, and found the little Testament my mother had placed there.
I read right through the book – Matthew, Mark, Luke, to Revelation. Every part was interesting to me; and I found to my surprise that I could understand it in a way that I never had before. When I had finished Revelation, I began at Matthew, and read it through again. And so for days I continued reading, and with continued interest; and still with no thought of becoming a Christian, I saw clearly from what I read the way of salvation through Christ.
While laying in the hospital, a young man begged a nurse to pray for him, but she refused. He then begged Daniel who said “I can’t pray. I never prayed in my life. I am just as wicked as you are.”
The young man begged Daniel to pray for him. He felt God speaking to him, so he knelt at the boys bedside confessing first his sins and then praying for the young man. By the time he finished, the young man had peacefully passed from this life.
Major Whittle wrote “I dropped on my knees and held the boy’s hand in mine. In a few broken words I confessed my sins and asked Christ to forgive me. I believed right there that He did forgive me. I then prayed earnestly for the boy. He became quiet and pressed my hand as I prayed and pleaded God’s promises. When I arose from my knees, he was dead. A look of peace had come over his trou bled face, and I cannot but believe that God who used him to bring me to the Savior, used me to lead him to trust Christ’s precious blood and find pardon. I hope to meet him in heaven.”
He was given the rank of Major by the end of the Civil War. He was thereafter known as Major Whittle. Following the work he went to work for the Elgin Watch Company.
He went to work for Dwight L. Moody and his association. He served as an evangelist and hymn writer. In addition to There Shall Be Showers of Blessings, he also wrote I Know Whom I Have Believed.
Major Whittle’s daughter, Mary, married the son of Dwight L. Moody.
Dwight L. Moody once said of Whittle and his hymns: “I think Major Whittle has written some of the best hymns of the century.”
Daniel Whittle died on March 4, 1901.
James McGranahan, who often traveled sharing the gospel with Major Whittle, composed the music for There Shall Be Showers of Blessings.