Horatio G. Spafford was a Chicago Presbyterian layman. He was born in North Troy, New York on October 20, 1828. After graduating from college and passing the bar exam, he established a successful legal practice in Chicago. He enjoyed a very lucrative law practice, yet always maintained a keen interest in Christian activities.
He was personally acquainted with D. L. Moody, and the other evangelical leaders of that era. George Stebbins, a noted Gospel musician of the day, described H. G. Spafford as “a man of unusual intelligence and refinement, deeply spiritual, and a devoted student of the Scriptures.”
In 1870 and 1871, H. G. Spafford encountered some “troubled waters” in both his personal and professional life. His only son died, which brought great sorrow to the remaining family. He also had invested heavily in real estate on the shore of Lake Michigan.
The Chicago Fire of 1871 entirely wiped out his holdings. The repercussions were far-reaching. Desiring a time of rest and rejuvenation for his wife and four daughters, and wanting to be with D. L. Moody and Ira Sankey in one of their campaigns, the Spafford family planned a trip to Europe.
Last minute business developments caused H. G. Spafford to remain in Chicago, but he sent his wife and daughters on ahead as scheduled. They embarked on the S. S. Ville du Havre. He was to follow a few days later on another ship.
November 22, 1873 the S. S. Ville du Havre was struck by the Lochearn, an English vessel. It sank in twelve minutes. Several days later the rescued survivors landed at Cardiff, Wales. Mrs. Spafford cabled her husband a two-word message: “Saved alone.”
Spafford left Chicago to join his bereaved wife. On the sea near the area where it was thought the shipwreck had occurred, Spafford penned words describing his own grief. Yet, as you read through the entire lyric of the song, you see that H. G. Spafford was able to turn his thoughts from his own life’s sorrow and trial to the redemptive work of Christ – and ultimately to the promise of His return. H. G. Spafford is the writer of:
It Is Well With My Soul Lyrics by Horatio G. Spafford (1828-1888)
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.
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 – O 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 trumpet 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.
After understanding the anguish he experienced and the faith it took for this man to pen these words, it made me appreciate and value this old song far more. It is the same in all things. If we knew what it cost to make, or accomplish, some things, we would value them more. The privilege to be a Christian should never be taken lightly. Jesus taught us that we should count the cost.
Chaplain Ronnie Melancon
Is It Well With Your Soul?
NOTE: Posted at Counting The Cost – By: Chaplain Ronnie Melancon