Friday, February 4, 2011

It Is Well With My Soul

I am sure many have heard the unforgettable story of Horatio Gates Spafford, author of the beloved hymn "It Is Well With My Soul".  It is one of the most beautiful songs that I have heard, especially when sung in a four part harmony.

Born: Oc­to­ber 20, 1828, North Troy, New York.
Died: Oc­to­ber 16, 1888, Je­ru­sa­lem, Is­ra­el, of ma­la­ria.
Buried: Je­ru­sa­lem, Is­ra­el.

Spafford was a lawyer who lived in Chicago in the late 1860s. He and his wife Anna had five children and he was an advocate for the abolitionist movement. He frequently housed guests in his home such as Dwight L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey, and was an known as a dedicated Christian.

In the 1870s God tested the faith of Horatio and Anna. First their four year son, Horatio Jr. died of Scarlet fever. Then the Great Chicago Fire burned down much of the invested property that Spafford owned.  Although this was a great devastation, they had a strong faith in God and trusted in him for support. Though they were nearly broke, they used what they had to help those devastated by the fire. They showed a great example of Christ's love to those in need.

By 1873 the failing health of Anna Spafford and dealing with all that had ensued, the Spafford's planned a trip to Europe for a getaway.  Spafford had a two fold reason to go, his friends and fellow laborers in the Lord, Dwight L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey were conducting a revival in England and wanted Spafford to assist.  

In November they planned to set sail to Europe. The day they planned to leave, Horatio was called on emergency  business and could not go.  So, as to not disappoint, he sent his wife and daughters ahead.  In Gods perfect timing, all went according to his great plan. 

The ship that Anna and the girls were traveling on were struck by a British ship. Their ship sank within 12 minutes in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.  It is said that only 81 of the 307 souls aboard survived. 
Anna was picked up among the debris but all four girls were lost. 

Anna sent a simple yet heartbreaking cable to her husband which read "Saved alone. What shall I do..."  At the news of his family, Horatio left Chicago and set sail for England to bring his wife home.  

Sailing across the very place the tragedy happened, the Captain of the ship that Horatio was on, called him to the bridge to inform him of the fact. That very night, Horatio Spafford penned the words of the now famous and beloved Hymn "It Is Well With My Soul".

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But, Lord, ‘tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh trump of the angel! Oh voice of the Lord!
Blessèd hope, blessèd rest of my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.


Spafford felt the peace that passes all understanding. He knew the grace that God gives in times of distress.  

I tell you this story not to bring sadness but encouragement. Many of us have dealt with trials and tribulation.  My family has personally dealt with trials over the past few years and we know of many who have been suffering with in the last year.  It is a great encouragement to me to see others praise God in the midst of their trial.   I don't know if I were subject to the same trials that were given to the Spafford's that my response would be the same.   I pray it would be so.  


  1. What a great reminder of God's peace during difficult times. Sorrow may abound and tears may threaten at every thought of the situation but God's peace surpasses all.

  2. it remindes me to read the bible ever day