Some of you may know the timeless hymn “It is Well With My Soul” I knew it too, I knew it well, the melody came back to me easily every time it was sang and the words flowed out of my mouth without thought.
For those of you that don’t go to church / don’t currently believe in God, you probably don’t know of this song, its a classic, but not like, an ‘Elf’ the Movie “classic” more like a ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ classic!
Like I said, I thought I knew this song like the back of my hand but it wasn’t until I heard the story behind it, the circumstances in which it was written that I really knew the song, now I can’t listen to a single version of it without bawling with appreciation and thanks to my God.
Our story starts with a man who is happily married to his best mate with four daughters and a son. He was some top boss man lawyer in Chicago and business was thriving, he owned a lot of property in the city and life was pretty good.
But no matter what, crap happens in life right? (I personally think that the stronger you are in your faith the harder the devil tries to hit ya and once he’s got you down he keeps you there) Horatio (the man in question) had to face some things that I know I definitely wouldn’t get through the way he did, just as everything was going brilliantly, he was respected, money was in, things changed beginning with the death of his only son who lost his life to pneumonia in 1871.
Losing a child is something that must be terrifying to every parent in the world, I, obviously don’t have children yet but that doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate that my biggest fear is nothing to what a loss of a child would do to me. Not long after this, Horatio lost nearly everything in the Great Chicago Fire, all that property he had? All the money he was bringing in? Up in smoke.
A few years later, Horatio decided that his wife and daughters deserved a trip to Europe (I can’t say I disagree) to get away from what would have been constant pain and suffering with s struggling business and every part of your house or street reminding you of your lost child / brother and with business doing better again, they could afford it.
So in 1873, he sent his wife and daughter on a boat headed for Europe, with the plan that he would join them a couple days later after finishing up on some business stuff but soon came horrible news that the ship that he had sent his family on had been wrecked about four days into their journey across the atlantic the Ville du Harve crashed into a powerful, iron-hulled Scottish ship, the Loch Earn. Horatio received a telegram from his wife, “Saved alone…”
Horatio went to meet his grieving, heart broken wife, he would’ve been cross the same waters that had just taken his little girls, then he began to write…
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
A famous composer at the time called Philip Bliss read the words and heard Horatio’s story and was so moved that he wrote a peaceful tune to go along with Horatio’s words.
In a time where everything was taken away from him, this man did not write an angry open letter, he did not throw his bible away and blame God for everything, no. He wrote, in my opinion one of the best, most popular hymns … ever. I don’t know about you but I find it hard to be thankful at the best of times! In July I lost my dog, who was much more to me then I knew a dog could be, he helped me up the stairs when I couldn’t make it my self by letting me hold onto his collar, he jumped around to distract me from anxiety and lay with me and listened to me cry in times of depression, I lost my dog and I didnt go back to church for 3 weeks. Horatio looses his son and his little girls and he writes a song titled “it is well with my soul”
I’d be surprised if you didn’t believe in God and you were still reading to be honest but if you are (brilliant) think about how much this man would’ve known about his God, think about how sure he was of his faith, of course he would’ve had some pretty crappy times along the way and definitely following this experience, but could you, as you were on a boat very similar to the one that had just been ruined and killed your family, traveling on the same road, waters, path, whatever, could you not blame someone for what happened? Could you sit and instead take comfort in everything else in life?
I know I’d struggle quite a bit with this one if you ask me.
This is the YT video of the Hillsong cover of this song, this is the version, that after listening to so many, really touches me every time I hear it, give it a listen and really do listen, to the words while you remember the story you just read.
I know this is pretty different to my usual post but I have heard this story and this song so many times and not once have I felt bored. I really believe I am supposed to share this, so if it touches you more than you expected just give the song a proper listen, remember the story next time you’re feeling like the world is against you. Whether you believe in God or not, just let the story do its telling and let all views and politics go out of the window, after all if something makes you feel, I think thats much more important than pride or being stuck in our own views.