It is well with my soul?

June 20, 2007

I let out a secret a few weeks ago…about my love of the gospels.  One of my dearly favorite hymns is It is well with my soul, by Horatio Spafford.  The story behind the song had to do with the number of trials and sufferings he had to deal with.  The loss of 2 sons to scarlet fever, the drowning of 4 daughters, his business going to pot due to the Great Chicago Fires, etc, etc.  The guy was dealt more than seemed possible for one man.  After some of these tragedies he wrote the song, It is well with my soul.  It’s an incredible story of clinging to the Lord in the midst of HUGE sorrow.

Then I found out the rest of the story.

Most haven’t heard about his wife, Anna.  She had to endure all of these tragedies as well.  I believe the hardest one, for her, was to come though.  Eventually Horatio and Anna moved to Jerusalem and did so much for the community there.  However, he also became mentally ill.  He not only chose to “live as a eunuch for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake”, but he also ended up thinking he was the Second Messiah.  He died in Jerusalem of malaria in 1888.  Anna went on to live almost 40 years after him.  She never left his side.  She took care of him throughout his illness.

 When I first heard about the full story of Horatio I was devastated…completely demoralised that the writer of the song that inspires me to continue on despite life’s pain turned out to be a wack job!  But then my thoughts and heart turned to Anna.  She needed that song of inspiration, written by her husband, more than anybody.

I wonder…did that song truly inspire her?  Or did it anger her?  Was the church/friends comforting to her even though mental illness is so sadly misunderstood?  Did she feel her Father’s arms around her during the care of her husband?

People are people.  Why is it so hard for us (me!) to remember that we ALL have fallen short of the glory of God?  It is only by His grace that we can pick ourselves back up and take that next step. 

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,
It is well, 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 hath 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!

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with 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.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.



  1. What a Beautiful post, and song as well!

  2. Wow… now that is a powerful story.
    Great post… thanks for sharing. I had never heard of that gospel before. Very powerful.
    – Audrey
    Pinks & Blues Girls

  3. Never thought about her side of it. We always think the story ends when he dies.

    Have you read Christine Schaub’s book Finding Anna? It’s a fictionalized account of the events that led Horatio to write It Is Well. Great book.

  4. […] post by biblestyle for Soul […]

  5. As the author of “Finding Anna”–the fauxography of H.G. Spafford and his famous hymn, I wanted to mention a couple of fact vs. myth problems in your blog…primarily that Spafford was mentally ill. He wasn’t, in fact. That was a smear campaign started and fanned by Spafford’s Chicago church when he ended his membership and moved to Jerusalem, taking other parishioners with him.

    This was a time when “misfortune” in one’s life was directly related to “sin.” And since the Spaffords lost their four girls in the shipwreck–then lost their only son from their second brood to scarlet fever, the church tried to take his remaining children from him…because of his evident “sin.” When the Spaffords rebelled and decided to leave Chicago forever, the church reacted with the smear campaign.

    For more facts on the Spafford’s lives, please read Bertha Spafford’s account, “My Jerusalem.” It’s wonderful…and clears up a LOT of misinformation on the man. CS

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