NEW MUSIC: “IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL” – THE TRAGEDY & TRIUMPH OF HORATIO SPAFFORD

I was doing a gig a couple weeks ago and threw in a few gospel tunes. As I wrapped up one of my sets with a new arrangement of “It Is Well,” a rough, mustached guy approached me.

You ever heard the story of that song?” he asked. I said yes, but couldn’t remember the details. He went on to tell me that his preacher had told him the story of the hymn: Horatio_Spafford

Horatio Spafford was a prominent lawyer in Chicago. A string of tragedies began in 1870, when Spafford’s four year old son died of pneumonia. The large family grieved the loss of their only son. The following spring, Spafford invested much of his wealth in developing real estate in Chicago. Not six months later, “The Great Chicago Fire” overtook the city, including most of Spafford’s new investments.

A couple years passed, and Spafford decided to take his family to England for a vacation. Held up by some imminent business, Horatio sent his family ahead on the Ville du Havre steamship. The steamship was sunk, though, and killed all four of Spafford’s daughters.

Eleven-year-old Annie. Nine-year-old Margaret Lee. Five-year-old Bessie. Two-year-old Tanetta. They were all dead.

telegram

His wife telegrammed, sending Horatio the unspeakable news. Horatio’s life was shattered into fragments. The man had been gutted. His family and his wealth had literally been destroyed. As he made his way to England and the boat passed the place where his children had recently died, Spafford penned the haunting words to the now-famous hymn, “…when sorrows like sea billows roll…”

Few people on earth will ever have to face the suffering of Horatio Spafford. But when our life is met with inevitable hardships, may we suffer in dignity and grace like he did. And may this song- whatever version we sing of it- remind us to cling to our triumph and hope in Christ.

When peace like a river comes 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.”

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, oh my soul

I long for the day when my faith becomes sight
The clouds be rolled back like a scroll
The trumpet will sound, and the Lord will appear
Even so, it is well with my soul

I recorded two different versions of this song. I’ll release the other one shortly and let you be the judge of which version is best. In the meantime, listen to the song on the player to the right. You can download my chord chart for the arrangement. You can also download the tune for a buck on Bandcamp. All proceeds will go toward Lincoln’s “Buy Tangawizi a Bed” fundraiser. So enjoy, share, “like”, and spread the word. And as always, I love hearing your specific thoughts on the songs.

May you seek and enjoy the peace of God, which is beyond all human comprehension. He is extravagantly rich, and He desires for you to share in His kingdom through Jesus Christ.

Comments (4)
  1. Mike Morrow April 24, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    Perfect song for me this morning. A great reminder of the complete and perfect sovereignty of God. No matter what touches us we can rest in th assurance that it was sifted through the hands of God before it reached us. I needed that for today and this season. Awesome arrangement Nick. You are making these old hyhms fresh for a new generation.

  2. Steven Potaczek April 24, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    No matter how many times I read this story, I am rocked to the core. This song is a beautiful testament to the Holy Spirit’s (the Great Comforter or Paraclete) active presence in the Father’s children. Thanks for sharing.

  3. nickmorrowmusic April 24, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    Amen and amen! My prayers this morning have been that someone can be reminded of God’s peace through a meager musical offering. Spafford’s story is testament to what can happen when we embrace Him. May we be people that embrace Him in our suffering!

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