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.
One of my favourite hymns of all time is a beautiful hymn called “It is well with my soul”. It was written in 1873 by a gentleman called Horatio Spafford. The story behind the hymn is heart-breaking, which makes the sentiment of the hymn even more remarkable. The Spaffords lived in Chicago, USA and made plans in 1873 to travel to Europe. Having decided to travel to Europe the family made a last minute decision to send Horatio’s wife Anna and their four daughters ahead, with Horatio planning to follow later. Mum and the girls crossed the Atlantis on the SS Ville du Havre but tragedy struck in the middle of the ocean when the ship collided with another vessel and sank. Tragically, all of the girls drowned and only the Mum, Anna, survived. When she finally got to England she sent her husband a telegram with the heartbreaking words: “Saved, alone…”.
Horatio then boarded a ship to join his grief-stricken wife in England and, as his ship passed over the spot where the SS Ville du Havre had sunk, he wrote his now famous hymn, the first verse of which is at the top of this piece. I can never sing this hymn without a huge lump in my throat when I think about the unbelievable pain that Horatio and his wife had to experience. Even more remarkable is that he was able to write, after such a devastating tragedy, “it is well with my soul”.
All of us face challenges in our lives and there are times when each of us wonders how we are going to find the strength to carry on. Whenever I might find myself thinking along these lines, I take comfort from the words written by Horatio Spafford.
This week at Kingsley we have had a real focus on well-being and this has been the focus of activities and events for both staff and students. Our emotional, physical and spiritual well-being is so important but it can be difficult at times to achieve this. May we all be attentive to our own well-being and the well-being of those around us and may it be well with our souls.
You can listen to 2 versions (one traditional, one modern) of this wonderful hymn by clinking on these links:
Mr Pete Last