It Is Well

I grew up singing a lot of old-fashioned hymns that didn’t necessarily mean anything to me as a child.  It was only a few years ago that I discovered the history behind one of those familiar songs, “It Is Well with My Soul.”  We were singing it in church, and our pastor at the time paused to tell the story:

it is well with my soul
credit: walkthesame.com

There were many things going on in Horatio Spafford’s life in the late 1800s and, seeking a better future for his family, he decided to go to Europe.  He sent his wife and four daughters ahead of him and, while crossing the Atlantic Ocean, their ship sank.

His wife sent a telegram: “saved alone…”   Legend has it, that while traveling to meet his wife, and passing over the very spot where his daughters died, Spafford penned this now-famous song


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.

whatever my lot
credit: donotdepart.com

[chorus]
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 has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
[chorus]

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!
[chorus]

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.
[chorus]

*listen to a version by Chris Rice
 and another by Hillsong. And have to throw another one in by Phil Wickham.

There’s a lot more to the story, but that’s the gist of it.  Can you imagine?  There were tears in my eyes, listening to my pastor recount the tale, and now whenever I hear the song my heart swells and my eyes pool with tears, imagining the immense feeling of loss and sorrow, coupled with such strength of faith.

There are many versions of this song, but one of the contemporary songs inspired by this is performed by Kristene DiMarco.  In her song, “It is Well,” she sings “it is well with my soul… it is well with my soul” over and over… and it’s a good reminder… one that I need to keep saying to myself.

*header image credit: truthforlife.org

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2 thoughts on “It Is Well

  1. I too fell in love with this song when I heard the story behind it about 20 years ago. I’m glad you discovered the story behind the song too. God’s timing is always perfect. I hope this brings you comfort when you need it. It has been a source of comfort to me over the years.

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