I always loved this powerful hymn and so I was excited to learn the story behind It Is Well With My Soul. The circumstances that led up to this song of contentment and praise may surprise you! (If you’d prefer to listen to the audio version of this story, scroll to the end of this article to find the podcast version below!)
Here’s what you’ll learn about the hymn, It Is Well with My Soul!
- The Story Behind It Is Well With My Soul
- Who Wrote It Is Well With My Soul?
- Tragedy Strikes Horatio Spafford
- What Happened to Horatio Spafford’s Wife And Children
- When Was It Is Well With My Soul Written?
- It Is Well With My Soul Lyrics
- WATCH: Performance of It Is Well With My Soul Hymn by Cassidy Claire
- WATCH: GodTube Video of The Story Behind the Hymn
- How Did H.G. Spafford Die?
The Story Behind It Is Well With My Soul
Imagine everything in your life is coming up roses — you’ve married your soulmate, have five beautiful children and a booming career. Do you think you’d be able to say to God, “It is well with my soul?” Now, imagine all of that is taken away — it’s just you and your grief-stricken spouse, nursing horribly broken hearts. Would it be as easy then to say to God, “It is well with my soul?” But that is the powerful truth behind this classic hymn — a truth that brings even more conviction to the soul-stirring lyrics.
Who Wrote It Is Well With My Soul?
This incredible story of faith belongs to Horatio Gates Spafford (1828-1888). Much like Job, he placed his trust in God during his life’s prosperity, but also during its calamities. A devout Christian who’d immersed himself in Scripture, many years of his life were joyous. He was a prominent Chicago lawyer, who’s business was thriving. Horatio owned several properties throughout the city. He and his beloved wife had four beautiful daughters and one son. Life was more than good — it was blessed.
But faith, no matter how great, does not spare us from adversity.
Tragedy Strikes Horatio Spafford – Writer of It Is Well With My Soul
Just as Horatio hit the pinnacle of his profession and financial success, things began to change. It began with the tragic loss of their son. Not long thereafter, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed nearly every real estate investment Horatio owned.
What Happened to Horatio Spafford’s Wife And Children
Just a few years later in 1873, Horatio decided to treat his wife and daughters to a much- needed escape from the turmoil. He sent them on a boat trip to Europe, with plans to join them shortly after wrapping up some business in Chicago. Just a few days later, he received a dreadful telegram from his wife, “Saved alone…” It bore the excruciating news that family’s ship had wrecked and all four of his daughters had perished.
When Was It Is Well With My Soul Written?
In 1873, Horatio was on his way to meet his heartbroken wife, passing over the same sea that had just claimed the lives of his remaining children. It was then that he put his pen to paper and the timeless hymn was born.
It Is Well With My Soul Lyrics – by H.G. Spafford
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows, like a sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Tho’ Satan should buffet, tho’ trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath 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 in whole,
Is nailed to His cross and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh, my soul.
And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll,
The trumph shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
“Even so”- it is well with my soul.
It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
WATCH: It Is Well With My Soul Hymn
Famous hymn composer, Philip Bliss (1838-1876), was so moved by Horatio’s prose, that he composed a peaceful tune to accompany the words. The song was published by Bliss and Sankey, in 1876.
It’s incredible to think such encouraging and uplifting words were born from the depths of such unimaginable sorrow. It’s an example of truly inspiring faith and trust in the Lord. And is goes to show the power our God has to overcome even the darkest times of our earthly life.
Now that you know the full story, watch as it is told against the backdrop of the beautiful song in the video below (keep the tissues on hand!):
How did H.G. Spafford Die?
Horatio Gates (H.G.) Spafford died of Malaria in Jerusalem on October 16, 1888, and is buried in American Colony in Jerusalem. While the author of this beautiful hymn has passed on, we still have this beloved hymn to inspire us daily in our walk!
We pray this brought you inspiration. Be sure to share this story with others who could use a reminder that our God will see us through any storm!
h/t: Share Faith