Day 322 | Thursday, 4 February 2021
Today, I want to highlight the hymn “It Is Well with My Soul” which is one of Wendy Howig’s favorite hymns. Author – Horatio G. Spafford, 1873; Music – Philip P. Bliss 1876.
1. “When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; what-ever 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.”
2. “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. (Refrain) It is well with my soul, it is well, it is well with my soul.”
3. “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! (Refrain) It is well with my soul, it is well, it is well with my soul.”
4. “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. (Refrain) It is well with my soul, it is well, it is well with my soul.”
“This beloved gospel song was written by a Chicago Presbyterian layman, Horatio G. Spafford, born in North Troy, New York, on October 20th, 1828. As a young man Spafford had established a most successful legal practice in Chicago. Despite his financial success, he always maintained a keen interest in Christian activities. He enjoyed a close and active relationship with D. L. Moody and the other evangelical leaders of that era. He was described by George Stebbins, a noted gospel musician, as a “man of unusual intelligence and refinement, deeply spiritual, and a devoted student of the Scriptures.”
"Some months prior to the Chicago fire of 1871, Spafford had invested heavily in real estate on the shore of Lake Michigan, and his holdings were wiped out by this disaster. Just before this he had experienced the death of his son. Desiring a rest for his wife and four daughters as well as wishing to join and assist Moody and Sankey in one of their campaigns in Great Britain, Spafford planned a European trip for his family in 1873. In November of that year, due to unexpected last minute business developments, he had to remain in Chicago; but he sent his wife and four daughters on ahead as scheduled on the S. S. Ville du Havre. He expected to follow in a few days. On November 22nd the ship was struck by the Lochearn, an English vessel, and sank in 12 minutes. Several days later the survivors were finally landed at Cardiff, Wales, and Mrs. Spafford cabled her husband, “Saved alone.” Shortly afterwards Spafford left by ship to join his bereaved wife. It is speculated that on the sea near the area where it was thought his four daughters had drowned, Spafford penned this text with words so significantly describing his own personal grief- “when sorrows like sea billows roll.” It is noteworthy, however, that Spafford does not dwell on the theme of life's sorrows and trials but focuses attention in the third stanza on the redemptive work of Christ and in the fourth verse anticipates his glorious second coming. Humanly speaking, it is amazing that one could experience such personal tragedies and sorrows as did Horatio Spafford and still be able to say with such convincing clarity, “It is well with my soul.”
“Phillip P Bliss was so impressed with the experience and expression of Spafford's text that he shortly wrote the music for it, first published in one of the Sankey-Bliss hymnals, Gospel Hymns No. Two, in 1876. Bliss was a prolific writer of gospel songs throughout his brief lifetime. In most cases he wrote both the words and music for his hymns. His songs, like most early gospel hymnody, are strong in emotional appeal with tunes that are easily learned and sung.” (Source – 101 Hymn Stories by Kenneth W. Osbeck, pp 127-128.)
Leave a Reply.
Rev. Douglas Knopp, Pastor Emeritus