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It is well with my soul


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Story of the song, "It is Well With My Soul"

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It is well with my soul

  1. 1. Story of the Song, “It Is Well With My Soul”<br />Today’s piece, “It Is Well With My Soul,” has perhaps one of the most famous and well documented song stories. All the stories agree, and I doubt if I could improve upon it. Thus, I will give an extended quote about the song and then add my personal note which will be very appropriate as we approach the 10 year anniversary of that fateful Day, 9-1-1.<br />According to<br />Horatio Spafford (1828-1888) was a wealthy Chicago lawyer with a thriving legal practice, a beautiful home, a wife, four daughters and a son. He was also a devout Christian and faithful student of the Scriptures. His circle of friends included Dwight L. Moody, Ira Sankey and various other well-known Christians of the day.At the very height of his financial and professional success, Horatio and his wife Anna suffered the tragic loss of their young son. Shortly thereafter on October 8, 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed almost every real estate investment that Spafford had.In 1873, Spafford scheduled a boat trip to Europe in order to give his wife and daughters a much needed vacation and time to recover from the tragedy. He also went to join Moody and Sankey on an evangelistic campaign in England. Spafford sent his wife and daughters ahead of him while he remained in Chicago to take care of some unexpected last minute business. Several days later he received notice that his family's ship[the SS Ville du Havre] had encountered a collision. All four of his daughters drowned; only his wife had survived. [Spafford was informed of the news by the receipt of telegram from his wife which read, “Saved alone, stop.]With a heavy heart, Spafford boarded a boat that would take him to his grieving Anna in England. It was on this trip that he penned those now famous words, When sorrow like sea billows roll; it is well, it is well with my soul.Philip Bliss (1838-1876), composer of many songs including Hold the Fort, Let the Lower Lights be Burning, and Jesus Loves Even Me, was so impressed with Spafford's life and the words of his hymn that he composed a beautiful piece of music to accompany the lyrics. The song was published by Bliss and Sankey, in 1876. [Bliss named the tune: Ville du Havre after the ill-fated ship.] For more than a century, the tragic story of one man has given hope to countless thousands who have lifted their voices to sing, It Is Well With My Soul. (Inserts are mine.)<br />The Spaffords later had three more children, one of whom (a son) died in infancy. In 1881 the Spaffords, including baby Bertha and newborn Grace, set sail for Israel. The Spaffords moved to Jerusalem and helped found a group called the American Colony; its mission was to serve the poor. The colony later became the subject of the Nobel prize winning Jerusalem, by Swedish novelist Selma Lagerlöf.<br />The Georgia Southern University marching band Southern Pride plays the song at the end of each win. <br />On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, I was at a training course on a federal reservation at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. We learned of the crash into the first tower shortly after breakfast and into the first session of the day. It was decided to abandon the train for a while and watch on giant-screen TVs which had been used to run the PowerPoint presentations.<br />Then the second tower was hit and we all were overcome with a wide variety of emotions. I, like many, many people, felt the need to call loved ones, so I called my daughter, Amy, then a student at Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth. During the phone conversation, I broke down into uncontrollable sobbing. Amy’s firm confidence that God was still in control finally calmed me down and I was able to go on with the conference – which basically broke down after that.<br />The next night, Wednesday, I needed desperately to go to church, so I went downtown to the First Baptist Church in time for the evening fellowship dinner. I was a little let down to learn that the speaker would talk with us over dinner and it would be a man from the State Baptist Convention giving some sort of useless report. I endured that waiting to see what God was going to do.<br />And do He did. Sitting at my dinner table was a choir member. He and I had talked about music and how I was a sometimes choir director. He asked if I would like to attend choir rehearsal as a guest. I readily agreed.<br />As most First churches of large cities do, they had a great choir, over 200 members. I was issued music like a member and we all took our seats in the choir room. In a minute, the director came in. He told us to put away our packets that we were not going to have a regular rehearsal. He said let’s sing “It Is Well With My Soul.” We did – all 201 of us. I wept again through all the verses, but I got it. Spafford didn’t know it, but he wrote those words just for my grieving soul.<br />When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,When sorrows like sea billows roll;Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,It is well, it is well with my soul.<br />And in that moment I knew that it was, in fact, well with my soul.<br />“Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, KJV)<br />Follow now the famous words: <br />When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,When sorrows like sea billows roll;Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,It is well, it is well with my soul.<br />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 hath regarded my helpless estate,And hath shed His own blood for my soul.RefrainMy sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!My sin, not in part but the whole,Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more,Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!RefrainFor 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 lifeThou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.RefrainAnd 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.Refrain<br />