‘It Is Well with My Soul’

Melissa HendersonBy Melissa Henderson3 Minutes

“It Is Well With My Soul” is a hymn that may bring peace and comfort when considering the peace that fills our souls. Have you wondered who wrote this hymn and what inspired the words? Lyrics can be created from the results of joy, tragedy, thanksgiving, contemplation, and more.

In the 1800’s, Horatio Gates Spafford was born. As an adult, Horatio became a lawyer and Presbyterian church elder. His inspiration for writing “It Is Well With My Soul” came from a heartbreaking tragedy involving his four daughters. Another event that brought inspiration to Horatio was the Great Chicago Fire.

Horatio Spafford married Anna Larsen in 1871. Historians report that the couple were friends with Dwight L. Moody, an evangelist. Horatio and Anna were devastated when the Great Fire of Chicago destroyed their real estate investments. That would not be the only tragedy in their lives.

A few years after the destruction of the area, a family trip to Europe was scheduled. Although Spafford could not travel with his wife and daughters, they went ahead without him. During their voyage, the ship was hit by another vessel, and many people were killed. Among the dead were the four daughters of Horatio and Anna. His wife survived the wreckage.

As Horatio went to meet his wife, he began to pen “It Is Well With My Soul.” The heartbreak of losing their four daughters inspired him to share his feelings through song.

Later, the couple had more children. After losing another child to disease, Horatio and Anna began to host prayer meetings in their home.

We may ask how could Horatio find peace after suffering such deep tragedies. The answer is found in faith. The lyrics remind us that when peace or sorrows come, we can find peace through the blood of Christ shed for our souls.

Horatio’s words in this song help us to remember that no matter what we face in life, we are not alone. God is always with us. Yes, we will experience pain and heartbreaking situations, but in every moment, we are covered with the love of God.

“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.”  (“It Is Well With My Soul” by Horatio Gates Spafford)

Whatever you are experiencing today, go to God and seek His presence. He will comfort and give peace. In every situation, God is ready to hear the prayers of His people.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalms 46:1 NIV).

In His Name,

Melissa Henderson