The hymn “When Peace Like a River” was born out of tragedy and yet heralds one of the most amazing testaments in Christian hymnody. Horartio Spafford, after an earlier series of tragedies, also lost his four daughters at sea in a shipping accident. While sailing across the Atlantic, he wrote this hymn near the area where his daughters died. For me, as a father who loves his daughters dearly, this story has always resonated strongly. However, it is the chorus I want to highlight. It is one of those songs that only people of faith should sing. “It is well with my soul.” It is a declaration of the power of Jesus Christ – his death and resurrection.
When Peace Like a RiverWhen 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 Horatio Spafford
I’ve always appreciated the heart-breaking story behind this wonderful hymn. Thanks for sharing!