It Is Well With My Soul

Album: A Mighty Fortress (1876)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • On 15 November 1873, the French liner Ville du Havre sailed from New York with 313 passengers and crew on board. Delayed by pressing business, Chicago lawyer Horatio G. Spafford let his wife Anna and their four daughters go on ahead for Paris. After a week's steaming across the Atlantic Ocean, the ship collided with the iron clipper, Loch Earn, at about 2 a.m. on the morning of Saturday, November 22. Anna was picked up unconscious, floating on a plank of wood, by the crew of the Loch Earn, however her four daughters all perished. A fellow survivor, Pastor Weiss, recalled Anna saying, "God gave me four daughters. Now they have been taken from me. Someday I will understand why."

    Nine days after the shipwreck Anna landed in Cardiff, Wales, and cabled Horatio, "Saved alone. What shall I do..." After receiving Anna's telegram, Spafford immediately booked passage to join her in England. While passing over the spot where his daughters died, he began writing the text for "It Is Well With My Soul," commemorating his daughters and conveying a sense of trust and ultimate peace with God's plan for his life. Family friend Philip P. Bliss, wrote the tune to accompany Spafford's text. The hymn was published in Gospel Hymns No. 2, a 1876 hymnal compiled by Bliss and Ira D. Sankey.

    The Spaffords later had three more children, one of whom (a son) died in infancy in 1880. The following year, the family of four, including baby Bertha and newborn Grace moved to Jerusalem with some friends where they founded a group called the American Colony, whose mission was to serve the poor. The colony later became the subject of Swedish novelist Selma Lagerlof's Nobel prize winning book Jerusalem.
  • Gospel duo Mary Mary borrowed the hymn's chorus for "It Is Well," a track from their 2011 album. Something Big.

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Trans Soul Rebels: Songs About Transgenderism

Trans Soul Rebels: Songs About TransgenderismSong Writing

A history of songs dealing with transgender issues, featuring Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Morrissey and Green Day.

Why Does Everybody Hate Nu-Metal? Your Metal Questions Answered

Why Does Everybody Hate Nu-Metal? Your Metal Questions AnsweredSong Writing

10 Questions for the author of Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces

"Private Eyes" - The Story Behind the Song

"Private Eyes" - The Story Behind the SongSong Writing

How a goofy detective movie, a disenchanted director and an unlikely songwriter led to one of the biggest hits in pop history.

Experience Nirvana with Sub Pop Founder Bruce Pavitt

Experience Nirvana with Sub Pop Founder Bruce PavittSong Writing

The man who ran Nirvana's first label gets beyond the sensationalism (drugs, Courtney) to discuss their musical and cultural triumphs in the years before Nevermind.

Howard Jones

Howard JonesSongwriter Interviews

Howard explains his positive songwriting method and how uplifting songs can carry a deeper message.

Richard Butler of The Psychedelic Furs

Richard Butler of The Psychedelic FursSongwriter Interviews

Psychedelic Furs lead singer Richard Butler talks about their first album since 1991 and explains what's really going on in "Pretty In Pink."