I’ve heard and sung this beloved hymn for many years. It’s story never loses it’s power, no many times it’s been told. Horatio G. Spafford, a very prominent lawyer in Chicago is the man who penned the lyrics.
In the 1860’s, life was going very smoothly for Horatio and Anna. Four daughters and a son graced this couple’s lives. They were enjoying wonderful Christian fellowship with D.L. Moody and members of their church.
Then the unthinkable happened. (So many of us can identify with life going smoothly, then all of a sudden, it as though something broke loose and one horrible thing after another happens.)
Their only son, who was four years old, suddenly died of scarlet fever. The very next year, the Chicago fires wipes out every single house Horatio and Anna had bought for investments.
Their family heartbroken over the death of the baby and the money lost, Horatio decided to take his wife and daughters on a trip to England to help D.L. Moody in one of his evangelistic crusades. At the last minute, Horatio was called on immediate business. Not wanting to delay the family’s trip, Horatio told Anna and their daughters to go ahead on the boat set for England and he would join them in a few days. Nine days later Horatio received a telegram from Anna that simply said, “saved alone”. A boat collided with the ship they were sailing. In twelve minutes the ship sunk and all their daughters were killed.
Dear Anna. Her last memory of that horrible event was her standing on the deck watching Annie, Maggie, Bessie and Tanetta clinging to her, but torn away by the fierce waters. Anna was spared by a plank underneath her. She heard that small still voice say, “You were spared for a purpose”. She immediately thought about what a friend had said to her, “It’s easy to be grateful and good when you have so much, but take care that you are not a fair-weather friend to God.”
As soon as Horatio got the telegram, he boarded the next ship leaving New York to join his wife. He asked the captain of the ship to tell him when they sailed over the place where the accident happened. When they reached the area where the ships collided, Horatio went down to his room and penned the words to “It Is Well With My Soul”, taken from 2 Kings 4:26.
These old hymns are such a treasure! What is your favorite hymn story?