Tuesday, March 22, 2011

It Is Well

My favorite hymn to sing is the hymn It Is Well with My Soul. I've loved this hymn for as long as I can remember, but it took on new meaning after Carleigh. I now cannot sing this song without crying.

Do you know the story behind this hymn? It's tragic, yet beautiful.

"This hymn was written by a Chicago lawyer, Horatio G. Spafford. You might think to write a worship song titled, 'It is well with my soul', you would indeed have to be a rich, successful Chicago lawyer. But the words, "When sorrows like sea billows roll ... It is well with my soul”, were not written during the happiest period of Spafford's life. On the contrary, they came from a man who had suffered almost unimaginable personal tragedy.

Horatio G. Spafford and his wife, Anna, were pretty well-known in 1860’s Chicago. And this was not just because of Horatio's legal career and business endeavors. The Spaffords were also prominent supporters and close friends of D.L. Moody, the famous preacher. In 1870, however, things started to go wrong. The Spaffords' only son was killed by scarlet fever at the age of four. A year later, it was fire rather than fever that struck. Horatio had invested heavily in real estate on the shores of Lake Michigan. In 1871, every one of these holdings was wiped out by the great Chicago Fire.

Aware of the toll that these disasters had taken on the family, Horatio decided to take his wife and four daughters on a holiday to England. And, not only did they need the rest -- DL Moody needed the help. He was traveling around Britain on one of his great evangelistic campaigns. Horatio and Anna planned to join Moody in late 1873. And so, the Spaffords traveled to New York in November, from where they were to catch the French steamer 'Ville de Havre' across the Atlantic. Yet just before they set sail, a last-minute business development forced Horatio to delay. Not wanting to ruin the family holiday, Spafford persuaded his family to go as planned. He would follow on later. With this decided, Anna and her four daughters sailed East to Europe while Spafford returned West to Chicago. Just nine days later, Spafford received a telegram from his wife in Wales. It read: "Saved alone."

On November 2nd 1873, the 'Ville de Havre' had collided with 'The Lochearn', an English vessel. It sank in only 12 minutes, claiming the lives of 226 people. Anna Spafford had stood bravely on the deck, with her daughters Annie, Maggie, Bessie and Tanetta clinging desperately to her. Her last memory had been of her baby being torn violently from her arms by the force of the waters. Anna was only saved from the fate of her daughters by a plank which floated beneath her unconscious body and propped her up. When the survivors of the wreck had been rescued, Mrs. Spafford's first reaction was one of complete despair. Then she heard a voice speak to her, "You were spared for a purpose." And she immediately recalled the words of a friend, "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."

Upon hearing the terrible news, Horatio Spafford boarded the next ship out of New York to join his bereaved wife. Bertha Spafford (the fifth daughter of Horatio and Anna born later) explained that during her father's voyage, the captain of the ship had called him to the bridge. "A careful reckoning has been made", he said, "and I believe we are now passing the place where the de Havre was wrecked. The water is three miles deep." Horatio then returned to his cabin and penned the lyrics of his great hymn.
Taken from here

Horatio and his wife later had 3 more children-2 daughters and a son who died in infancy. They moved to Jerusalem and founded a mission that served the poor.

Can you imagine going through everything he went through and still saying, "It is well."?

Today I stopped by our local Christian book store to see if I could find something to put in a couple memory boxes. I was glancing at the wall where they have different pieces of art when I saw the hymn in a frame among other hymns. I read over the words and my eyes filled with tears which threatened to spill over. I kept myself together as I didn't want to lose it in the store. It's really quiet in there. The third verse for some reason is missing but it didn't matter. I had to buy it. So it came home with me and I plan on hanging it next to a rustic cross and near a framed drawing of Jesus we have.

It's less than a week until Carleigh's 2nd birthday. My emotions have been much more in check this year than last year. I wasn't sure what to expect and still don't. But as I read the words to my favorite hymn I am reminded that while my heart is still broken it is well, yes, it is well with my soul.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

My sin, oh, 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!

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

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.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.


Mattie said...

I hold this song dear as well and I can't help but cry when I hear it and read those lyrics. What an example he and his wife were to grieving Christians. They show us that while being a Christian will not save us from grief and pain, God takes care of us and that day when the clouds roll back all our grief will be taken away.


tomandcheryl said...

This whole post is just beautiful Holly! It is so touching. I am so impressed by your strength but boy i wish you didn't have to be so strong. I wish you never had to go through this....I wish no mother did!

Kara said...

Thank you Holly for posting this. We sang this song at Karinne's burial after our minister shared a brief version of this story. It means a great deal to me as well and is why I have 2 versions of it on my playlist. What a heartbreaking story and such faith to carry on after such deep loss. If you don't mind, I may repost this on my blog sometime. HUGS!!!

Clarissa said...

A beautiful post! Thank you for sharing!

TanaLee Davis said...

I am so proud of you for the strength you have shown and continue to show. it is okay to cry but I 100% understand why you wouldn't want to loose it in the store. Thank you for sharing your experience and being so humble in all of this. Your an example for all of us. Hugs-

Karen said...

This song means a lot to me also! We had it sung at Faith's Funeral. I too have tears come to my eyes every time I hear it! I just love the the music framed! It is beaautiful!

Thinking of you this week!

Debby@Just Breathe said...

I remember hearing this story years ago. Unbelievable. It is one of my favorites too. Can't believe you found that framed piece.

New Year Mum said...

Such beautiful words... he was amazing to write these words out of such tragedy. Thank you for sharing them xoxo

Caroline said...

Such a beautiful post. I love that song too. I cry so easy sometimes even when I want to I can't hold it in. You are a very strong & wonderful mother.


Sarita Boyette said...

Beautiful, Holly. I'm glad you were able to find the framed song. I had read this story before, but had forgotten parts of it. Thank you for posting it. Remembering Carleigh...xoxo

Mary said...

merci pour le partage je ne connaissais pas cette chanson. Les plus belles oeuvres naissent souvent dans les tragédies. quel homme, quelle femme, quelle histoire, quelle exemple...

Kelly @ Sufficient Grace Ministries said...

Beautiful, beautiful....

I love this hymn, and have always loved the story behind it even more. It truly is an example of clinging to Him...no matter what. Amazing. Thank you for sharing it here.

Continued love and prayers for you...

Remembering Carleigh with you, my friend...

Mary said...

I have always heard this story, but now, knowing the depth of sorrow when you lose only one child, I am overwhelmed at what they went through. I can't imagine having that kind of faith in that depth of loss...

.Katie. said...

What a beautiful song, and story. <3

Melissa said...

Thanks for sharing this whole story! This is truly one of the great hymns!

stitchndeb said...

This is my favorite hymn. I just love how you found the music framed, so close to Carleigh's birthday. ~Debbie

Betty said...

Look mom, a Carleigh wink! I love this hymn too...Makes me bawl every time. I love the story behind it.

Hannah Rose said...

Wow, thank you so much for sharing this, Holly. I too love this hymn. I will never look at it the same again.

Kim @ Peace of my Heart said...

Knowing the story behind the words certainly does bring new meaning to them! This hymn was the first one that came to mind as we planned Kristen's service. It always brings me to tears, too.

Beautiful post, Holly!

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