Tragedy and Perseverance: "It Is Well With My Soul"
Tragedy befell our lives and souls. "It Is Well With My Soul" is a soothing song that gives our soul reprieve and strength to keep on living.
"It Is Well With My Soul" is a hymn of faith. It draws inspiration for unshakable faith of its creator, Horatio Gates Spafford (1828-1888). Spafford wrote this hymn after suffering a horrible and tragic family event. Four of his daughters died in the sea while traveling aboard the S.S. Ville du Havre on a transatlantic voyage. The loss of his four daughters is so significant that he wrote this hymn in their memory. Before this tragedy, he had already lost his 4-year-old son to scarlet fever. Spafford was already on financial hardship because most of his investments were destroyed in the Great Fire of Chicago.
After the tragedy, he gained three more daughters from his wife, Anna Spafford, who survived the shipping tragedy. Based on account of his daughter, Bertha Spafford Vester, the hymn was written initially with four verses. After some time, Spafford added one more verse and changed the hymn's last line.
Philip Bliss wrote the music for this hymn and aptly named the tune after the ship where his daughters died.
Spafford was a lawyer and also a Presbyterian church elder. He and his wife are also influenced and friends of evangelist Dwight L. Moody.
Philip Paul Bliss (1838-1876) wrote the music. The tune was named after the ship on which Spafford's daughters died, Ville du Havre. It is said that Bliss was inspired by the Spafford's prose that he offered to make the music. Bliss and Sankey published this hymn in 1876.
The hymn has four to six stanzas, depending on the hymnal. The first verse in the hymn is said to have been written after Spafford met his wife after the tragedy. The refrain is only two lines and is repeated after every stanza.