It is Well with my Soul (1873)
Peace Like a River
Rescue of the Survivors of the Ville du Havre
Bertha Spafford Vester, Horatio Spafford's daughter, born in 1878
wrote the following in her book "Our Jerusalem"
In Chicago, Father searched his life for explanation.
Until now, it had flowed gently as a river. Spiritual peace and worldly security had
sustained his early years, his family life and his home
All around him people were asking the unvoiced question;
"What guilt had brought this sweeping tragedy to Anna and Hoaratio Spafford?"
Father became convinced that God was kind
and that he would see his children again in heaven.
This thought calmed his heart, but it was to bring Father into open conflict
with what was then the Christian world
On the way across the Atlantic (in 1873),
the captain called Father into his private cabin.
"A careful reckoning has been made and I believe we are
now passing the place where the Ville du Havre was wrecked."
Father wrote to Aunt Rachel
On thursday last we passed over the spot where she went down
in mid-ocean, the water three miles deep.
But I do not think of our dear ones there.
They are safe, folded, the dear lambs, and there,
before very long, shall we be too.
In the meantime, thanks to God,
we have an opportunity to serve and praise Him
for His love and mercy to us and ours.
I will praise Him while I have my being.
May we each one arise, leave all, and follow Him.
To Father, this was a passing through the "valley of the shadow of death,"
but his faith came through triumphant and strong.
On the high seas, near the place where his children perished
he wrote the hymn that was to give comfort to so many:
When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea-billows roll,
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to know;
"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 - oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin - not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to His cross and I bear it no more;
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh my soul.
And, Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll,
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend-
A song in the night, oh my soul !
(Changed later to:"Even so - it is well with my soul.")
the following verse was added to the familiar version some time later
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live,
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou shalt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
(continuing with Bertha Spafford's story);
That he could write such words at such a time was made possible
by the fierceness of his struggle and the completeness of the victory.
P. P. Bliss, the predecessor of Sankey with Mr. Moody wrote the music for this hymn.
"It is Well with My Soul" became famous and appears in many hymn books the world over