In Christian services around the world, people sing the great hymn, “It is Well with my Soul.” Most have no idea who the writer of the words was or what was his background.
His name is Horatio Spafford with music composed by Philip Bliss in 1873.
The question you may ask, after hearing about his life’s story in the video below, is how could he have ever penned those words?
Anyone who has gone through times of trial or the most disastrous events in their lives know that they have to find something or Someone greater to cling to in order not to lose sanity or their faith in God.
Some people may never quite get to a point in faith to say “It is well.” The author of this hymn also went out on a limb in his personal beliefs. Nevertheless, in the end, his great song has been a lifeline to many as they find out that Christ is the only answer to our sufferings because He knew suffering well.
Here are the words to It Is Well With My Soul by Horatio Spafford.
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (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!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul. (Refrain)
And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
A song in the night, oh my soul! (Refrain) ( from Wikipedia)
Here is Horatio Spafford’s story and the tune to his song. (turn up sound)
May you be blessed in your soul.
Feeling a little beaten up? Things aren’t going right at all? In fact, you think things are just rotten!
Maybe your holidays were good, but not as good as they could have been. How often we think of “only what if”! Some of you may even be saying that there were just too many people at my house at Christmas; someone I love did not show up…or even call; there was just not enough time to do what I wanted to do; or worried about what 2015 will hold for you…so on and so on.
You think your days are rotten and you’d like to just go down to the local bar and forget it all like Hemingway. Unfortunately, we remember how his life ended.
Well, sister or brother…you probably don’t have anything to complain about. I thought I’d show you some rare photographs sent to me by a friend. Let’s take a journey to the past when rotten was really rotten!
Cheer up…yes, there is terrorism in the world. Terrible things happen but do not forget the brave of the past who can encourage us with their lives. In the time of trouble, people used their talents and showed us the way! They stepped up to the plate…did not feel sorry for themselves…but moved on for what was best for themselves, fellow citizens, and their country.
Go outside…feel the sun…pick a flower…tell someone you love them. Your day does not have to be rotten. Keep things in perspective and “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
Post note: After this post, a reader wrote me this comment after she, a music teacher in a rural school, had received some unhappy news from her employer.
As we go from year to year, we often look back and ask ourselves, “What if something had not happened…or we had made different decisions…would our life be different? Would it be better? Would I not have gone through certain sufferings..either physical, mental or emotional?”
It is normal to wonder about these things. It is not normal to be obsessed by them. We face certain moments when we have to look rationally at life and receive it for what it truly is. That is often hard to do, but it is essential. What has happened in our lives is what has made us who we are. We learn from these experiences…and in many cases find courage from them.
I take encouragement from William Wordsworth’s poem that speaks to our human mortality and ultimate immortality. There is a certain age when we finally see that we are mortal…and life will have an end. We always hope it is not soon, but we do not know. I think when my Mother passed away two years ago, at age 93, I , for the first time in my life…counted the years that I may have left. I know that those years will pass quickly…as the ones in past have done. It was a wake-up call that I did not really receive…but knew I had to do so.
What was that “wake-up call”? It was the knowledge that I could continue to look backwards…at especially difficult times …like decisions family members have made that hurt; sickness, death and more other things that could be named. There may not be an answer for any of these.
I could also worry about things that have not happened…and may never happen. If we are truthful with ourselves we can not live our present life in a past experience or our present life in a future experience that we may never have. We only have now.
Wordsworth used the birds and lambs as example of enjoying and glorying in the life of Spring. He was going to join them in this experience and learn to feel “gladness”. I want to feel gladness. That may mean stopping to hear that bird. It may mean listening to a child laugh. It might be just closing my eyes and feeling the sun’s warmth on my face.
Wordsworth continues that some things in life…perhaps the innocence of childhood …were wonderful times. Nothing can bring that back. For some, childhood was not a joy…but perhaps a life with a husband that is now gone…was joyful. Whatever those happy experiences were…they are the “splendor in the grass…”. He likens this to the beauty of a “flower”…but we all know that the flower does not last forever. Life in the past was lived and life that is now is what “remains”. We then find “strength” and courage for today from the good of the past.
May you find that to be true in 2014.
A part of William Wordsworth’s famous Ode: “INTIMATIONS OF IMMORTALITY FROM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY CHILDHOOD”
Then sing, ye Birds, sing, sing a joyous song! And let the young Lambs bound As to the tabor's sound! We in thought will join your throng, Ye that pipe and ye that play, Ye that through your hearts to-day Feel the gladness of the May! What though the radiance which was once so bright Be now for ever taken from my sight, Though nothing can bring back the hour Of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower; We will grieve not, rather find Strength in what remains behind..." Complete poem by Wordsworth Pictures by Robert Berdan