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drawing a string using SDL

If I was using OpenGL with SDL, I could have used FTGL of GLTT to draw
strings with different font faces.  But when I am not using OpenGL,
how do I draw a string onto the surface?

As of now, I blit BMP images containing the text.  But the images need
to recreated using GIMP whenever the text is to be changed.  What if I
want to print arbitrary text at runtime?  Do I need to have a bitmap
for each and every character and then blit those bitmaps according to
the characters in the string?  Is there some library already written
for this?

Abhir Joshi