Sunday, July 5, 2009

Top Ten Hymns Countdown #9: It Is Well with My Soul

The words to this hymn were written by Horatio G. Spafford, and to my knowledge, this is the only hymn he ever wrote. Spafford was a Christian, and by occupation, a Chicago lawyer in the 1870's. He and his family were credited with helping many after the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. Three years later, his wife and four children were en route to France when their steamer collided with another boat and sank quickly. Only Mrs. Spafford was pulled alive from the waters. Once she reached land, she cabled her husband with the message "Saved alone."

Two years later, Spafford wrote this hymn in commemoration of the death of his children (He and his wife would have two more children after the tragedy). Having four children myself, I can only hope that God would allow me the peace to say, if I were to lose them all at once,

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

The Spaffords and their two young children moved to Jerusalem in 1881 and founded a group whose mission was to serve the poor. You can read more about Spafford here and here.

The words were put to music by Philip P. Bliss, who authored dozens of hymn lyrics himself, including such hymns as "Almost Persuaded," "Hold the Fort," and "Whosoever Will." Bliss died in a train wreck months later, when after surviving the initial crash following a bridge collapse, he reentered the train in an unsucessful attempt to save his wife.

These words are a great comfort to anyone who has suffered a loss and who wonders if God can give them peace thereafter. He can.

It Is Well with My Soul

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.


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.


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!


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;
Oh trump of the angel! Oh voice of the Lord!
Blessèd hope, blessèd 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.


Past Entries in this Series:

Top Ten Hymns Countdown #10: All Creatures of Our God and King

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