IT IS WELL written in 1873
Horatio Spafford (1828-1888) was a wealthy Chicago lawyer with a thriving legal practice, a beautiful home, a wife, four daughters and a son. He was also a devout Christian and faithful student of the Scriptures. His circle of friends included Dwight L. Moody, Ira Sankey and various other well-known Christians of the day… and he supported their ministries financially.
At the height of his financial and professional success, Horatio and his wife, Anna, suffered the tragic loss of their young son. Shortly thereafter, on October 8, 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed almost every real estate investment Spafford had.
In 1873, Spafford scheduled a boat trip to Europe in order to give his wife and daughters a much needed vacation and time to recover from the tragedy. He also went to join Moody and Sankey on an evangelistic campaign in England. Spafford sent his wife and daughters ahead of him while he remained in Chicago to take care of some unexpected last minute business. Several days later, he received notice that his family’s ship – the S.S. Ville Du Havre – had, on November 22, struck another ship… and sank within 12 minutes. The telegram he received from his wife read simply: “Saved alone.” All four of his daughters drowned; only his wife had survived.
With a heavy heart, Spafford boarded a boat that would take him to his grieving Anna in England. When they reached the spot in the ocean where the accident was reported to have happened, the ship’s captain called Horatio to the deck. In those few moments of grief, by the ship’s rail, Horatio was inspired to write this hymn.
Philip Bliss (1838-1876), composer of many songs, was so impressed with Spafford’s life and the words of his hymn that he composed a beautiful piece of music to accompany the lyrics. The song was published by Bliss and Sankey, in 1876.
For more than a century, the tragic story of one man has given hope to countless thousands who have lifted their voices to sing, “It Is Well With My Soul”.
Read this hymn, and – today – allow it to speak to those memories of grief, or those current thoughts of concern and sadness.
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.”
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 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.