We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer

Sunday, March 27, 2011

It Is Well With My Soul

A very good hymn was sung in church today; one of my wife’s favorites.  The hymn is titled, It Is Well With My Soul.  There is a very interesting - and sad - story behind this hymn, which demonstrates the faith of its author, Horatio G. Spafford (1828-1888).  Let me cite the history from, The One Year Book Hymns.
Horatio G. Spafford, a forty-three-year-old Chicago businessman, suffered financial disaster in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.  He and his wife were grieving over the death of their son shortly before the fire, and he realized they needed to get away for a vacation.  Knowing that their friend Dwight L. Moody was going to be preaching in evangelistic campaigns in England that fall, Spafford decided to take the entire family to England.  His wife and four daughters went ahead on the SS Ville du Havre, and he planned to follow in a few days.  But on the Atlantic Ocean the ship was struck by an iron sailing vessel and sank within twelve minutes.  Two hundred and twenty-six lives were lost - including the Spaffords’ four daughters.  When the survivors were brought to shore at Cardiff, Wales, Mrs. Spafford cabled her husband, “Saved alone.”  Spafford booked passage on the next ship.  As they were crossing the Atlantic, the captain pointed out the place where he thought the Ville du Havre had gone down.  That night, Spafford penned the words “When sorrows like sea billows roll...it is well with my soul.”
Here, then, are the words to this wonderful, meaty hymn.
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.”
Refrain:
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, tho’ 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 - O, 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;
O, trump of the angel! O, 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.

3 comments:

Lois said...

I, too, love this hymn. Another interesting story behind Philip Bliss, the man who composed the tune for it, and was a prolific hymn writer in his own right, was just a few years after he wrote this tune, he himself died in a tragic train accident. He was only 38 years old.

Ron Livesay said...

When I lost my first wife to a massive stroke in 2001, it took me a while to really know that "It is well with my soul." Some have thought that the Lord bringing a new wife into my life is what brought me out of my low state. The truth is that I had to learn to praise the Lord again before I could really know all was well, and I reached that point before I met and married the one who is my wife now. My twin sons, who are excellent musicians, sang "It is Well With My Soul" in our wedding.

Praise the Lord for his goodness to his undeserving children.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I have had a couple e-mails sent to me from people with similar stories about how this song was very encouraging while they went through grief or other trials. My wife has found great solace in it also since the time of a personal family tragedy. She wants it sung at her funeral (and that, God willing, is still many years away!)