It Is Well With My Soul

it is well with my soul

I’m a hymns guy. I love hymns.

It’s not that I don’t like new worship music – it just that many songs don’t have the staying power that hymns do.

I’ve always loved this song, which is most often sung at funerals, but I really don’t know why. Everyday life holds many ups and downs and this song speaks to the emotion surrounding upset, loss and so on. We should sing it more often. It’s a good one.

What I love most about this song is the story behind why it was written.

The short version goes like this: Horatio Spafford was a wealthy businessman and lawyer. After losing a young son, he lost most of his real estate holdings in the Great Chicago Fire. During that time he had planned to travel to Europe, but sent his wife and 4 daughters ahead of him, while he attended to some business related to the fire. He planned to join them a few days later leaving on a different ship. In a tragic twist, the ship that was transporting his wife and daughters went down in the Atlantic ocean and only his wife survived. She sent through a message to him that said: “Saved alone…”

On his trip to Europe to meet his grieving wife, the ship passed close to where the other ship went down and it inspired him to write the words to “It is Well With My Soul”.

It’s never a good thing to compare one story to another in terms of levels of pain, but it’s safe to say he suffered more than one tragic loss. The song was written out of the pain of losing almost his entire family, as well as his business interests yet coming to terms with it and understanding that God was in control.

If you’re interested, here are the lyrics and video below. I had a hard time finding a version that didn’t skip too many verses.

When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, You have taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul

(Refrain:) It is well (it is well)
With my soul (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 has 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!


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

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