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'It is well, it is well with my soul'

Sunday, February 3, 2013

There's a hymn that brings comfort to me when I find myself going through difficult times. It is the old standard, "It Is Well With My Soul."

The writer, Chicago attorney Horatio Spafford, had just gone through the darkest period of his life when he felt compelled of the Holy Spirit to pen the words to this 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.

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.

It is well, with my soul,

It is well, with my soul,

It is well, it is well, with 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!

It is well, with my soul,

It is well, with my soul,

It is well, it is well, with 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.

Spafford was a very prominent lawyer and businessman, a loving husband and father, and a devout Christian gentleman. Yet, he knew what it was to have "sorrows like sea billows roll."

In 1870, his only son died from scarlet fever at the age of four. Then, a year later Spafford's vast real estate holdings along the shore of Lake Michigan were lost in the great Chicago fire.

Spafford and his family had experienced great losses, and they planned to take some time away to regroup. The family had reservations on a ship to go to England, and at the last minute, Spafford was called back to Chicago for business. He sent his wife and his four daughters on ahead of him on the French ocean liner "Ville de Havre," and he planned to join them when he could.

As the Spafford women were crossing the Atlantic Ocean on the ship, there was a horrific accident, and their ship collided with another. Mrs. Spafford watched as her four daughters were swept away and drowned. There were more than 200 people lost in that great tragedy at sea.

After Mrs. Spafford was rescued, she telegraphed her husband these words, "Saved alone."

When Spafford heard the terrible news, he boarded the next ship out of New York and headed to Europe to be with his wife.

During the voyage, the captain of his ship called Spafford to the bridge, and told him that they were passing near the spot where the Havre had gone down.

His heart filled with grief, Spafford returned to his room and wrote the words to this much beloved hymn.

Over the years, the words of this hymn have brought great comfort to millions who have sung these lyrics during their times of sorrow.

For those of us who believe in God, we can find strength in times of weakness, hope in the midst of turmoil, and comfort in our sorrow. And we can echo Spafford's words, "it is well, 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.

-- Doug Dezotell is the pastor of Mt. Lebanon UMC and Cannon UMC. He is a former staff writer for the Times-Gazette, and he is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a friend to many. He can be contacted at dougmdezotell@yahoo.com.


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Hello Doug,

I just wanted you to know that your story, "It is well with my soul" made it all the way out to Cedar City, UT. Wonderful story of one of my very favorite hymns. One never knows just how far ones influence will go when one "cast his bread upon the waters."

-- Posted by royhutson on Tue, Feb 5, 2013, at 12:42 PM


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Doug Dezotell
Memories and Musings