Thursday, April 12, 2012

It is Well With My Soul

It is 1870 and life is good for Horatio G. Spafford.
He is a dedicated Christian, first and foremost. He has dedicated his life to the Lord. He lives every day for his Savior.
He lives in Chicago with his lovely wife, Anna and their five children, Annie, Maggie, Bessie, Tanetta, and Horatio Jr.
Mr Spafford has a very successful law practice where he spends a good bit of his time, but he has quite a bit of time at home as well.
They are well-to-do; never wanting for anything. His wife loves him. His children love him. Everything is just right.

Then suddenly, without any apparent reason, all of that begins to change.
Four-year-old Horatio Jr catches the scarlet fever, and after a fierce battle with the illness, he dies. Horatio and his wife are devastated. Their youngest, their baby has just died. But they trust the Lord through their struggles and things seem to be getting better.
But that is only an illusion.
In October of 1871, the Great Chicago Fire broke out. The fire destroys all of Mr. Spafford's property and this once-wealthy man is now almost without a penny.
However, the Spaffords do not despair. Their own home is left unharmed and this is much more than most had after the fire. Instead of focusing on their own misfortunes, Horatio and Anna instead use the small amount of money and resources that they have left to feed the hungry, to care for the sick and wounded, to comfort the mourning, and to show the love of Christ to everyone they meet.

In 1873, just as the Spaffords are beginning to get back onto their feet in other respects, Anna's health is steadily getting worse and worse. Horatio decides that a trip to Europe will be just the thing to restore Anna's health and to raise the children's spirits. They would sail on the French steamer Ville du Havre in November. The four girls are thrilled and can hardly speak of anything else.
On the morning of the departure, the Spaffords' bags are packed and they are ready to leave.

But God had other plans for Horatio Spafford.
Just as they were supposed to leave for Europe, he has a sudden business emergency and is not able to leave Chicago. Since the girls and his wife are so excited, he does not want to disappoint them and so, sends them on alone to Europe. He will follow on another ship in a couple of days and meet them there.

It is November 22, 1873 and the steamer Ville du Havre is struck by a British sailing ship, the Lockhearn. Within twelve minute, Ville du Havre has sunk and 226 of the 307 passengers have gone down with the ship. Including Horatio's four little girls.
Miraculously, Anna Spafford is picked up from the floating debris by the Lockhearn. She is unconscious and does not yet know that all of her children are now dead.
 She is taken to Cardiff, Wales, where she must send the awful telegram to her husband.
"Saved alone." She writes. "What shall I do..."
Horatio comes at once to bring Anna home, leaving Chicago without delay when he receives the heartbreaking telegram.
On the way over the Atlantic, the captain of Horatio's ship calls him up on deck.
"We are passing directly by the place where the Ville du Havre was wrecked," he tells Mr. Spafford. "The water is three miles deep."
Horatio stares down into the deep, deep water; the water where the bodies of his four little girls lie drowned. This is the place. It looks just like the rest of the ocean. Nobody would ever guess what horrible things had happened there in the rolling"sea billows".
 And soon they are past it. And he can only look back.

That night, in his cabin alone, Horatio wrote the words to his famous hymn "It is Well With My Soul."
His faith in God never wavered. His faith was the only thing, through the awful times of trials, that stood strong. It can be truly said it was well with his 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!

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.

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


  1. I love this story. The song gives me shivers whenever I hear it.

    1. I love it too. The story and song are both so powerful. It really makes me want my faith to be that strong.

  2. Oh wow.. I had heard that story before, but didn't recognize it till the 'sending the girls on ahead to Europe' part. That's a great story about an amazing God. I love that song. :) My favorite line is "my sin, oh the bliss of this glorious though, my sin not in part but the whole is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more." It's like he can't even get the whole phrase out without saying how amazing it is. Thanks for posting.

    1. It's always been probably my favorite story behind a hymn. And one of my favorite hymns as well. So beautiful and convicting. It's just incredible that Spafford was able to write, and truly mean, those words after all that he had been through. Our God truly is an awesome God.

      No problem :-) Glad you enjoyed

  3. We sang this song in church today. It meant a lot more to me because of your post. :)


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