Horatio Spafford

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Horatio Gates Spafford was a wealthy Chicago businessman who suffered enormous personal and financial loss and wrote the hymn It is well with my soul.

Contents

Biography

Spafford was born in North Troy, New York, on 20th October 1828, the son of Horatio Snr., an inventor, author, editor, and entrepreneur.[1]

In 1861 Spafford married Norwegian Anna Lawson[1] and they settled north of Chicago. Spafford's law firm was successful, and he subsequently became an elder in Fullerton Avenue Presbyterian Church. He became involved with evangelists, and became close friends with Dwight L. Moody.

By 1871 they had one son and four daughters. But in that year, their son died, and while they were still grieving that loss, the Great Chicago fire wiped out Stafford's business and most of his wealth. Despite his own losses, he set about helping others who had suffered from the fire, putting his faith into practice.[1]

Two years later, the family set out for a holiday in England. They went to New York to catch the S.S. Ville du Havre, but a last-minute hitch with a business deal saw Stafford return to Chicago, intending to follow later to England to rejoin his family. Early in the morning of 22nd November 1873, the S.S. Ville du Havre collided with another ship, and sank in 12 minutes[1]. Of the 313 passengers and crew, only 61 passengers and 26 crew members survived. Among the 226 who lost their lives was Stafford's four daughters. His wife survived, and upon being taken to Cardiff, cabled her husband, starting with "Saved alone".[1]

Stafford caught the next ship to Europe, and according to his fifth daughter (born later), the captain of his ship told him when they were passing the site the S.S. Ville du Havre went down, and it was then that he wrote his famous hymn It is well with my soul.[2]

Lyrics of 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.


Refrain
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.
Refrain


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!
Refrain


For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
Refrain


But, Lord, ‘tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh trump of the angel! Oh voice of the Lord!
Blessèd hope, blessèd rest of my soul!
Refrain


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.
Refrain

Bibliography

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Glimpses of Christian History; Maxey
  2. Maxey, 2008. According to Ira Sankey, Stafford wrote the hymn in 1876, but Maxey believes that Sankey was confusing this with the tune, which was written in 1876 by Philip Bliss.
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