SPREADING THE WORD
A MAN NAMED HORATIO
BY REVEREND T.F. TENNEY
Recently, while preparing a sermon, lyric to an old hymn kept coming to my mind and heart. A little research on the matter, made it an appropriate illustration to go with the message. I share the story,
with our Challenger readers here:
Horatio G. Spafford was a Chicago Presbyterian layman. He was born in North Troy, New York on October 20, 1828. After graduating from college, passing the bar exam, he established a quite successful legal
practice in Chicago. He enjoyed a very lucrative law practice, yet always maintained a keen interest in Christian activities. He was personally acquainted with D. L. Moody and the other evangelical
leaders of that era. George Stebbins, a noted Gospel musician of the day, described H. G. Spafford as, “a man of unusual intelligence and refinement, deeply spiritual, and a devoted student of the Scriptures.”
In 1870 and 1871, H. G. Spafford encountered some troubled waters in both his personal and professional life. His only son died, which, of course, brought great sorrow to the remaining family. He invested
heavily in real estate on the shore of Lake Michigan. The Chicago Fire of 1871 entirely wiped out his holdings. The repercussions were far-reaching. Desiring a time of rest and rejuvenation for his wife and
four daughters and wanting to be with D. L. Moody and Ira Sankey in one of their campaigns, the Spafford family planned a trip to Europe. Last minute business developments caused H. G. Spafford to remain in
Chicago, but he sent his wife and daughters on ahead as scheduled. They embarked on the S. S. Ville du Havre. He was to follow a few days later on another ship.
November 22, 1873, the S. S. Ville du Havre was struck by the Lochearn, an English vessel. It sank in twelve minutes. Several days later the rescued survivors landed at Cardiff, Wales. Mrs. Spafford cabled her husband a two word message: ” Saved alone. ”
Spafford left Chicago to join his bereaved wife. On the sea near the area where it was thought the shipwreck had occurred, Spafford penned words poignantly describing his own grief. Yet, as you read through the entire lyric of the song, you see that H. G. Spafford was able to turn his thoughts from his own life’s sorrow and trial to the redemptive work of Christ – and ultimately to the promise of His return. H. G.
Spafford is the writer of:
It Is Well With My Soul
Lyrics by Horatio G. Spafford
Music by Philip Bliss
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.
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 – O 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.
And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll
The trumpet shall resound and the Lord shall descend
“Even so” it is well with my soul.
It is well with my soul.
It is well, it is well with my soul.
The Bible tells us the story of the woman whose son had died in her arms embarking on a journey to the house of the prophet. The servant went out to meet her and asked, “Is it well with thee? is it well with
thy husband? is it well with the child ? And she answered, It is well” (II Kings 4:26.) There was a miracle in her house that day. Whether you are reading this today in the midst of a personal storm or sailing on
calm waters, whether Your heart is rejoicing or broken by sorrow – if in the midst of your tragedy and turmoil, you like the Shunamite woman can even whisper, “It is well…” perhaps you, too, will find a miracle is just waiting to happen.
It is well – it is well with my soul!