It Is Well with My Soul
A Testimony to Sovereign Comfort in Suffering

In the annals of Christian hymnody, few hymns stir the soul and summon the tears as profoundly as Horatio G. Spafford’s timeless piece, “It Is Well With My Soul.” This hymn encapsulates the profound peace that surpasses all understanding, a peace that only the Sovereign Lord can give amidst the deepest waters of suffering.

Horatio Spafford was a successful lawyer and businessman in Chicago with a beautiful family – a loving wife, Anna, and five children. However, the Spaffords were not strangers to sorrows and trials. Prior to 1873, the Spafford family had lost one son to pneumonia and suffered great financial ruin in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Yet, the darkest days were still ahead of them.

In November 1873, Spafford planned a European trip for his family. Due to unexpected business complications, he sent his family ahead while he remained in Chicago. During the crossing over the Atlantic, the ship carrying his wife and daughters was struck by another sea vessel and sank rapidly. Of his family, only his wife survived. Upon arriving in England, Anna sent a telegram to her husband that began “Saved alone.” It was then that Spafford booked passage to join his grieving wife.

As Spafford traveled over the Atlantic, the captain of the ship called him to his cabin to inform him that they were now passing over the spot where his daughters had perished. It was there, in the face of such catastrophic loss, that Spafford penned the words to his famous hymn. The first stanza profoundly declares:

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.

The hymn not only articulates Spafford’s personal grief and reliance on God’s providence but also serves as a beacon of hope for all believers who traverse the dark valleys of human experience. Each verse is a testament to the sovereignty of God and His power to bring peace and comfort through Christ. The fourth verse powerfully reminds believers of the ultimate hope of the gospel:

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,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

“It Is Well With My Soul” resonates with all who have felt pain and loss—its words are a balm to the aching heart. The hymn is a profound affirmation of theological truths regarding God’s omnipotence, His care for His children, and the eternal hope that He offers through Jesus Christ.

In churches, homes, and solitary moments, this hymn continues to lift the hearts of countless believers up out of the doldrums of melancholy due to this world’s woes. It is a reminder that, come what may, our souls can rest securely in the sovereign hands of God.

Horatio Spafford’s famous hymn urges us to cling tightly to this truth, proclaiming in both trial and tranquility: “It is well, it is well with my soul.” This hymn endures as a universal anthem of the Christian’s unshakeable trust in the providence of God amidst the swirling chaos of a fallen world. Through “It Is Well With My Soul,” we are reminded that our peace is not dependent on external circumstances, but on the steadfast promise of God’s faithfulness to His people.