Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Horatio Spafford

We hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas. Our youngest son is currently home, visiting from the Marines for the next few days. While cleaning out the office closet over the weekend, I found an old article from my hometown paper that I’d like to share, after doing some additional research on some of the details.

The article was about Horatio Spafford (1828-1888), an affluent medical attorney and Presbyterian elder, who was a good friend of Dwight L Moody and correspondent of Thomas Jefferson. Living with his wife Anna and three daughters in 1871 Chicago, the great fire ravaged over a third of the city and left almost 100,000 people homeless. Though sustaining major financial loss (he was heavily invested in real estate), the Spaffords worked tirelessly for the next two years, helping victims to restore some normalcy in their lives.

In 1873, the Spaffords, along with their now four daughters, decided to go to Europe to join Mr Moody and hymnist Ira Sankey on their evangelistic crusade, then vacation while on the continent. Prior to boarding the ship in New York, Horatio was detained on a last-minute business obligation, so he sent his wife and daughters on ahead on the ocean liner SS Ville de Havre with plans to join them shortly.

On November 21, 1873 however, the ship collided with a British vessel and sank in less than 15 minutes. Over two hundred people drowned, including the four Spafford daughters, but Anna was miraculously rescued. She arrived in Wales over a week later and cabled Horatio “Saved Alone”. Mr Spafford then sailed to meet his wife on the next available ship. As he was crossing the Atlantic, the ship’s captain pointed out the place where he thought the Ville du Havre had gone down. That night, while sitting in his cabin, he wrote the following hymn.

When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea-billows roll,
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to know:
"It is well, it is well with my soul."

It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Tho' Satan should buffet, tho' trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed his own blood for my soul.


My sin - oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin - not in part but the whole -
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more;
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh, my soul.


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;
"Even so - it is well with my soul."


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 shalt whisper Thy peace to my soul.


It is Well with My Soul, 1873, Horatio Gates Spafford (Companion to the Baptist Hymnal)

My Grace is sufficient for you (2Cor 12:9).

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