It Is Well with My Soul
"It Is Well With My Soul" is a hymn penned by hymnist Horatio Spafford and composed by Philip Bliss. First published in Gospel Songs No. 2 by Sankey and Bliss (1876), it is possibly the most influential and enduring in the Bliss repertoire and is often taken as a choral model, appearing in hymnals of a wide variety of Christian fellowships.
This hymn was written after traumatic events in Spafford's life. The first was the death of his son at the age of 2 and the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which ruined him financially (he had been a successful lawyer and had invested significantly in property in the area of Chicago that was extensively damaged by the great fire). His business interests were further hit by the economic downturn of 1873, at which time he had planned to travel to Europe with his family on the SS Ville du Havre. In a late change of plan, he sent the family ahead while he was delayed on business concerning zoning problems following the Great Chicago Fire. While crossing the Atlantic, the ship sank rapidly after a collision with a sea vessel, the Loch Earn, and all four of Spafford's daughters died. His wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, "Saved alone …". Shortly afterwards, as Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed near where his daughters had died.
Bliss called his tune Ville du Havre, from the name of the stricken vessel.
The Spaffords later had three more children. On February 11, 1880, their son, Horatio Goertner Spafford, died at the age of four, of scarlet fever. Their daughters were Bertha Hedges Spafford (born March 24, 1878) and Grace Spafford (born January 18, 1881). Their Presbyterian church regarded their tragedy as divine punishment. In response, the Spaffords formed their own Messianic sect, dubbed "the Overcomers" by American press. In 1881, the Spaffords, including baby Bertha and newborn Grace, set sail for Ottoman-Turkish Palestine. The Spaffords settled in Jerusalem and helped found a group called the American Colony. Colony members, later joined by Swedish Christians, engaged in philanthropic work among the people of Jerusalem regardless of their religious affiliation and without proselytizing motives—thereby gaining the trust of the local Muslim, Jewish, and Christian communities. During and immediately after World War I, the American Colony played a critical role in supporting these communities through the great suffering and deprivations by running soup kitchens, hospitals, orphanages and other charitable ventures. The colony later became the subject of Jerusalem by the Nobel prize-winning author, Swedish novelist Selma Lagerlöf.
- 1961: Tennessee Ernie Ford; Hymns at Home
- 1963: Doris Akers; Forever Faithful
- 1968: Mahalia Jackson; A Mighty Fortress
- 1991: Don Moen; Eternal God
- 1995: Jennifer Holliday; On & On
- 1995: Crystal Lewis; (Hymns) My Life
- 1999: Audio Adrenaline; Underdog
- 1999: Selah; Be Still My Soul
- 2000: 4Him; Hymns: A Place of Worship
- 2001: Dwight Yoakam; South of Heaven, West of Hell
- 2002: Rebecca St. James; Worship God
- 2002: Amy Grant, with a portion of the song along with "The River's Gonna Keep On Rolling" (written by Vince Gill) on her album Legacy... Hymns and Faith
- 2003: The Three Tenors; Bath 2003
- 2005: Jars of Clay; Redemption Songs
- 2006: Chris Rice; Peace Like a River: The Hymns Project
- 2008: Kristyn Getty (YouTube)
- 2009: Kutless; It Is Well
- 2011: Hillsong Music (Darlene Zschech) single (new bridge added by Reuben Morgan & Ben Fielding); all proceeds from the recording go to help the Queensland Flood Relief Effort
- 2011: Josh Wilson; See You, instrumental version, finger-style guitar
- 2013: Eleventyseven; Good Spells (EP)
- 2014: Michael W. Smith; Hymns
- 2014: Shane & Shane; The Worship Initiative, Vol. 4
- 2014: Newsboys; Hallelujah for the Cross
- 2014: Bro. Philemon featuring Morris Babyface
- 2015: Kristian Stanfill from the Passion Conferences's album Even So Come
- 2016: Audrey Assad; Inheritance
- "History". Kosinski Studio. Retrieved March 26, 2013.
- Although the presence of a refrain makes the item technically a gospel song versus a hymn in the strict sense, it has a remarkably sustained and sonorous quality, which makes it comparable to the stateliest hymns in both Protestant and Roman Catholic hymnody. It has been prolifically translated and has demonstrated an appeal in various cultures.
- "The American Colony in Jerusalem, 1870-2006". Retrieved May 2, 2013.
- McCann, Forrest M. (1997). Hymns and History: An Annotated Survey of Sources. Abilene, TX: ACU Press. ISBN 0-89112-058-0, pp. 154, 327-328, 359-360, 520, 597.
- Sandra Bennett (2012). "The Beat Goes On". Retrieved March 2, 2014.
- "Gettys—It Is Well". YouTube. Retrieved October 15, 2011.
- Reuben Morgan (2011). "Hillsong collected blog—It Is Well". Retrieved January 22, 2011.
- "Bro Philemon - It Is Well ft. Morris Babyface (Official Video with lyrics) | GhanaMusic.com Video" (partly sung in Mandarin Chinese), YouTube.
- Francis Doku, "Best Male Artiste in African Inspirational Music category for AFRIMA 2014", Modern Ghana, 28 September 2014.
- Library of Congress item mamcol.016 High resolution images of the restored original manuscript (up to 22 MB) front AND back at the Library of Congress. (Includes an extra verse on the back, as well as notes from his prayer meetings)
- SpaffordHymn.com The original Hymn manuscript
- The American Colony in Jerusalem (A Library of Congress Exhibition)
- McCann, Forrest Mason (1997). Hymns & History: An Annotated Survey of Sources. Abilene, Texas: ACU Press, pp. 327–328, 520, 597. ISBN 0-89112-058-0