In November, 1873, Horatio Spafford sent his wife and four daughters on the French ship Ville du Havre from their home in Chicago to a vacation in France, planning to set out a few days later himself. Somewhere in the Atlantic, the Ville du Havre collided with a British ship coming the other way, and sank in just 12 minutes.
Of his family, only Spafford’s wife survived. Spafford took the next boat over, and as he passed the spot where the ship went down, began to write, “When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll,” and continued until he had the text, “It is well with my soul.” His good friend, Philip Bliss, composed the tune for his words, naming it after the ship, VILLE DU HAVRE. In this hymn, Spafford has given all of us words of comfort and assurance in times of physical and spiritual crisis, paraphrasing those familiar words of Julian of Norwich: “And all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”
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."
Refrain (may be sung after final stanza only): 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 has 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
O 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