1. When peace like a river attendeth my way, When sorrows like the sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, "It is well with my soul." 2. Though Satan should buffet, tho' trials should come, Let this blest assurance control, That Christ has regarded my helpless estate, And hath shed His own blood for my soul. 3. My sin O, 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! 4. 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. Chorus: It is well with my soul, It is well, it is well with my soul.
Lyrics: Horatio Gates Spafford
Music: Philip Paul Bliss
Tune: VILLE DU HAVRE
Meter: 184.108.40.206. with Refrain
Horatio G. Spafford, 1828–1888
Spafford was a successful attorney in Chicago, the father of four daughters, an active member of the Presbyterian Church, and a loyal friend and supporter of D. L. Moody and other evangelical leaders of his day. Then, a series of calamities began, starting with the great Chicago fire of 1871, which wiped out the family’s extensive real estate investments. When Mr. Moody and his music associate, Ira Sankey, left for Great Britain for an evangelistic campaign, Spafford decided to lift the spirits of his family by taking them on a vacation to Europe. He also planned to assist in the Moody-Sankey meetings there.
In November 1873, Spafford was detained by urgent business, but he sent his wife, Anna, and four daughters as scheduled on the S.S. Ville du Harve, planning to join them soon. Halfway across the Atlantic, the ship was struck by an English vessel and sank in twelve minutes. All four of Spafford’s daughters—Tanetta, Maggie, Annie and Bessie—were among the 226 who drowned. Mrs. Spafford was among the few who were miraculously saved. When she arrived in Europe, Mrs. Spafford sent the now famous telegram, “Saved alone.”
Several weeks later, when Horatio Spafford was going to rejoin his sorrowing wife in Cardiff, Wales, he stood hour after hour on the deck of the ship. When the ship passed the approximate place where his precious daughters had drowned, Spafford was moved to write the lyrics of this hymn, which include the lines, “When sorrows like sea billows roll … It is well with my soul.”