Behind the Hymn – It Is Well With My Soul

I prefer hymns over contemporary Christian music.
I prefer traditional anything over (most of) modernity. (Save A/C, because in Texas I couldn’t live without it.)

I’m going to start looking into different hymns. Most of the time they have the most in-depth language describing Christianity / Christian thought. The lyrics often have the most beautiful poetry and the story behind them, inspiring.


 

It Is Well With My Soul, written by Horatio Spafford

Horatio Spafford had beautiful family, Anna his wife and five children, and a successful career. In 1871, his uphill climb became a downhill slide as his son died of pneumonia and most of his business burned to the ground in Chicago. His business was able to rebuild and become successful once more, but that wasn’t the end to his troubles. In 1873 the French ocean liner, Ville du Havre, was crossing the Atlantic toward Europe. Among the passengers were Spafford’s wife and his four daughters. Initially he had planned to take the trip with his family, but business kept him back in Chicago. His plan was to take a ship following them a few days later.

Ville du Harve collided with a iron-hulled Scottish ship four days into the journey and soon the French ship slipped beneath the dark ocean. 226 passengers were lost, including all four of Horatio’s daughters.

A sailor rowing toward the wreck noticed a woman atop a piece of wreckage. It was Anna, alive. Nine days later she reached Wales and wired her husband, “Saved alone, what shall I do?” Another surviver of the ship wreck, Paster Weiss, heard Anna say later, “God gave me four daughters. Now they have been taken from me. Someday I will understand why.”

Spafford booked passage on the next ship to join his grieving wife. When the boat was four days out the captain came to Spafford and told him they were over the place where his daughters sank below the sea.

Burdened with the loss of all his children, he penned the lyrics to It Is Well With My Soul while on the journey to his wife:

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

Refrain:
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 hath 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!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when the 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.

2 thoughts on “Behind the Hymn – It Is Well With My Soul

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