Praise the Lord, O my soul.@Psalm 146:1
portrait
Horatio G. Spafford
(1828–1888)

Ho­ra­tio G. Spaf­ford, 1876.

Ville du Havre Phi­lip P. Bliss, in Gos­pel Hymns No. 2, by P. P. Bliss & Ira D. San­key (New York: Big­low & Main, 1876), num­ber 76 (note: pub­lished in a com­bined vol­ume with the 1875 Gos­pel Hymns and Sac­red Songs) (🔊 pdf nwc). Iron­i­cal­ly, Bliss died in a train wreck short­ly af­ter writ­ing this mu­sic.

portrait
Philip P. Bliss
(1838–1876)

When Mr. [Dwight L.] Moody and I were hold­ing meet­ings in Ed­in­burgh, in 1874, we heard the sad news of the loss of the French steam­er, Ville de Havre, on her re­turn from Am­er­i­ca to France, with a large num­ber of mem­bers of the Ec­u­me­ni­cal Coun­cil, whose meet­ings had been held in Phil­a­del­phia [Penn­syl­van­ia]. On board the steam­er was a Mrs. Spaf­ford, with her four child­ren.

In mid-ocean a col­li­sion took place with a large sail­ing ves­sel, caus­ing the steam­er to sink in half an hour. Near­ly all on board were lost. Mrs. Spaf­ford got her child­ren out of their berths and up on deck.

On be­ing told that the ves­sel would soon sink, she knelt down with her child­ren in pray­er, ask­ing God that they might be saved if pos­si­ble; or be made will­ing to die, if that was His will.

In a few min­utes the ves­sel sank to the bot­tom of the sea, and the child­ren were lost. One of the sail­ors of the ves­sel, named Lock­urn—whom I af­ter­ward met in Scot­land—while row­ing ov­er the spot where the ves­sel dis­ap­peared, dis­co­vered Mrs. Spaf­ford float­ing in the wa­ter.

Ten days lat­er she was land­ed at Car­diff, Wales. From there she ca­bled to her hus­band, a law­yer in Chi­ca­go [Il­li­nois], the mes­sage Saved alone.

Mr. Spaf­ford, who was a Chris­tian, had the mes­sage framed and hung up in his of­fice. He start­ed for Eng­land im­me­di­ate­ly to bring his wife to Chi­ca­go.

Mr. Moo­dy left his meet­ings in Ed­in­burgh and went to Li­ver­pool to try to com­fort the be­reaved par­ents, and was great­ly pleased to find that they were able to say, It is well; the will of God be done.

In 1876, when we re­turned to Chi­ca­go to work, I was en­ter­tained at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Spaf­ford for a num­ber of weeks. Dur­ing that time Mr. Spaf­ford wrote the hymn, It is well with my soul, in com­mem­o­ra­tion of the death of his child­ren. P. P. Bliss com­posed the mu­sic and sang it for the first time at a meet­ing in Far­well Hall.

The com­fort­ing fact in con­nec­tion with this in­ci­dent was that in one of our small meet­ings in North Chi­ca­go, a short time pri­or to their sail­ing for Eur­ope, the child­ren had been con­vert­ed.

This hymn was heard by a gen­tle­man who had suf­fered great fi­nan­cial re­vers­es in the pa­nic of 1899, and who was in the deep­est de­spon­den­cy.

When he learned the sto­ry of the hymn he ex­claimed: If Spaf­ford could write such a beau­ti­ful re­sig­na­tion hymn I will ne­ver com­plain again.

Sankey, pp. 168–70

When 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