Horatio Spafford was a successful lawyer, businessman, and devout Christian who lived in Chicago in the late 19th century. However, his life was marked by tragedy and loss, including the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which destroyed much of his real estate holdings, and the death of his only son shortly thereafter. Despite these setbacks, Spafford remained committed to his faith and continued to work tirelessly to help others, including those affected by the fire and those in need of spiritual guidance.
In 1873, Spafford decided to take his family on a trip to Europe, hoping that the change of scenery and the opportunity to meet with fellow Christians would lift their spirits. Spafford's wife Anna and their four daughters boarded a ship named the Ville du Havre and set sail for Europe. However, tragedy struck once again when the Ville du Havre collided with another ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and sank, killing 226 passengers, including Spafford's four daughters.
Can you even imagine?
Upon receiving news of the tragedy, Spafford immediately set out for Europe to be with his grieving wife. While on the journey, Spafford wrote a poem that would later be set to music and become one of the most beloved hymns of all time: "It is Well with My Soul."
The hymn, which speaks of finding peace in the midst of suffering and loss, has resonated with millions of people around the world for over a century. Its haunting melody and powerful lyrics have been sung at countless funerals, memorial services, and other occasions where people seek comfort and solace.
The lyrics of "It is Well with My Soul" were inspired by Spafford's own personal tragedy and his unwavering faith in God. The first verse reads:
"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."
The hymn goes on to describe the hope and comfort that Spafford found in his faith, even in the face of this overwhelming tragedy:
"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."
"It is Well with My Soul" quickly became a popular hymn in churches around the world, and it continues to be a source of comfort and inspiration for people of all faiths. Its timeless message of finding peace in the midst of suffering is a testament to the power of faith and the resilience of the human spirit.
My favorite part is the third verse that reads:
"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."
What a comfort to know we can have peace with our Father in Heaven through the shed blood of His Son, Jesus Christ!
Our hand-lettered hymn board using the sheet music of "It is Well with my Soul" seeks to serve as a constant reminder of this comfort! I pray knowing the story behind the hymn makes it that much sweeter to you!