Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunday Night Reflections

It Is Well With My Soul
(Original lyrics)[1]
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know,a
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Have you ever heard of Horatio Spafford? His is a story of great sorrow, great resilience and even greater faith.
In the latter part of the 1800's Mr. Spafford was a very successful Chicago lawyer. He invested heavily in real estate and met financial ruin due to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. After some recovery, he was once again hit by the economic downturn of 1875. He had planned a trip to Europe for he and his family, but decided to stay back at the last minute to deal with zoning issues that had arisen after the Chicago fire. While crossing the Atlantic, the ship that his wife and four daughters were on collided with another ship and sank. Only his wife was saved. He quickly boarded a ship to meet his grieving wife. While at sea, the captain came to Mr. Spafford and told him when they were crossing the point where the two ships had collided and where his four daughters had been lost. It was at that moment that he pulled out a pen and paper and wrote the lyrics to, "It is Well With My Soul."  
The Spaffords went on to have three more children. Their only son died at the age of four with scarlet fever. A few years later, the Spaffords decided to move to Jerusalem where they helped to form The American Colony whose mission was to serve the poor. Their philanthropic work focused on helping the poor with no regard for religious affiliation. The colony became the subject of the Nobel Prize winning book Jerusalem. The story was inspired by a visit that the author had with the Spaffords. The charitable work begun by the Spaffords continues today in the original Colony house. The Spafford Children's Center provides medical treatment and outreach programs for Arab children and their families.

Share this PostPin ThisShare on TumblrShare on Google PlusEmail This


  1. Wonderful story, my priest, Msgr. miller, told us that story.

    1. I had not heard the story. I just love how great grief can be turned into something so powerful.

  2. I had heard the story behind 'It is Well'...one of my favorite hymns...but I had not heard 'the rest of the story' about the ministry in Jerusalem. Wow. Thanks for posting it.

    1. I had never heard this story. I was especially struck by the fact that the Spaffords are still having an impact over 100 years later.

  3. Yes, I had heard that. I assume you know the story behind Amazing Grace as well. Awesome!
    Hugs, Joy

    1. Thanks Joy. I actually posted the story behind Amazing Grace may a year ago or so.