Last week at 6:30pm church we sang the wonderful old hymn (which by the way is also
our CMS link missionary Glen Turner’s favourite) “It is well with my soul”. Singing that
hymn with 140 others on Sunday night inspired me to share the story of that hymn again
with the whole parish!
The great Hymn writers had (and have) a marvellous ability to capture Biblical truth in a
manner that both speaks to our present situation and sticks in our consciousness. However,
some hymns become even more powerful and memorable when we appreciate
what inspired the writing of the hymn. There is no greater example of this than Horatio
Spafford’s wonderful hymn, ‘It is well with my soul’.
Horatio Spafford was a successful lawyer living in Chicago in the 1860s who suffered
something akin to the trials of Job. In 1871 his only son died at the age of four. Shortly
after, he was ruined financially when he lost all his assets in the great Chicago fire.
Finally, he sent his wife and four daughters ahead of him to Europe while he sought to
recover his business. While crossing the Atlantic, the ship collided with another vessel
and all four of his daughters drowned. His wife Anna sent him what has become a famous
telegram – ‘Saved Alone.’
Yet, Spafford was a Christian man who knew that God was in control and loved him even
in the midst of these horrible times. As he travelled by boat to be with his grieving wife
and his ship passed near where his daughters had died, Spafford was moved to write this
wonderful hymn. Surely, our prayer for ourselves is that we would so know the wonder of
the Gospel that we could sing the same things in our sufferings?
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know,
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.