In 1873, Horatio Gates Spafford, a wealthy lawyer and real estate owner, wrote the hymn, It is Well With My Soul, a beloved hymn for many Christians. However, most people do not know how he came to write such a powerful hymn.
After the Great Chicago Fire in the United States in 1871, Mr. Spafford, like most real estate owners in Chicago, lost almost everything he owned; however, he was grateful to have his family intact; Anna, his wife, and their four young daughters. Two years later, in an effort to give his family a much needed retreat, he planned a family vacation to Europe on the steamship, Ville du Havre.
On November 22, 1873, the day the entire family was to set sail to Europe, Mr. Spafford, delayed by a business venture, sent his wife and four daughters ahead, with plans to meet them in Europe once he concluded his business. Unfortunately, while the ship was crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the Ville du Havre, was hit by another ship. Over 200 people died in the wreckage including Mr. Spafford’s four young daughters, all under the age of eleven. Although his wife survived the sunken wreckage, all his daughters were gone. It is said that he wrote, It is Well With My Soul, while sailing the same route as his wife and daughters.
If you have ever sung the lyrics to, It is Well With My Soul, you already know that it stirs up the spirit of clarity, somberness, finality and peace. Although the original title of the song was Ville Du Havre, taken from the name of the steamship, it is best known as, It Is Well With My Soul. In the song there were originally five stanzas; however, over the years, some stanzas have been omitted depending on your hymnal and denomination. For those who do not know the words, take some time to read, sing, or listen to the stanzas.
We are saved by hope, not hope that is evident; or, hope that is seen; if it were apparent, we would not need faith to attain it. It is the Hope of God that pulls us through tragedy and sorrow; and, our knowledge that, in our faith, full and focused, we will overcome any sorrows that may come into our lives. If you really believe this, like Horatio Gates Spafford, you will be able to say, “Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, 'It is well, it is well, with my soul.'” L.
Study Reference: Romans 8:24-25
From: "It Is Well With My Soul." In The Master's Hands: 365 Daily Devotions For Everyday Living.
Copyright © 2014 by Lavona E. Campbell
photo: Warren Keelan