The inspiration for this website came from a Scripture song I heard over 10 years ago at a ladies retreat:

Like Apples of Gold in pictures of silver
A word fitly spoken shall be,
Like Apples of Gold in pictures of silver
Let my life bring glory to thee.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
Proverbs 25:11

Although some of the "stories" listed are made up, the Scriptural truths they illustrate are very real and can be of great benefit in a Christian's walk with the Lord and as illustrations for the lost.

It is my heart's desire that amongst the pages of this website, the Christian find words of encouragement and be spurred on to service for our Lord, and that seekers of the truth find Salvation in the timeless truths of God's Word for these troubled times.

- Angela

H.G. Spafford

Horatio G. Spafford

His Loved and Touching Hymn Immensely Inspires

© Tel Asiado

Brief biography of Christian lawyer Horatio G. Spafford and the history of the inspiring hymn he wrote, "It is Well with My Soul."

The hymn "It is Well with My Soul" becomes closest to heart for one undergoing grief. Written by a Presbyterian laywer Horatio G. Spafford (1828-1888) and composed by Philip P. Bliss (1838-1876), this deeply touching gospel song has long been loved.

The scripture reference is Psalm 46:1 "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."

Text Author and Hymn-Writer Horatio G. Spafford

Spafford was born on October 20, 1828 in North Troy, New York. He was a successful lawyer in Chicago who maintained a keen interest in Christian activities, deeply spiritual and devoted to the scriptures.

Chicago Fire and a Son’s LossSometime in 1871, a fire in Chicago heavily devastated the city, and months before that , Spafford had invested hugely in real estate by the shore of Lake Michigan. The disaster greatly wiped out his holdings. Before the fire, Spafford also experienced the loss of his son.

A Calm and Worst Life Storm

Two years after the fire, Horatio Spafford planned a trip to Europe for him and his family. He wanted a rest for his wife and four daughters, and also to assist Moody and Sankey in one of their evangelistic campaigns in Great Britain. He was not meant to travel with his family. The day in November they were due to depart, Spafford had a last minute business transaction and had to stay behind in Chicago. Nevertheless, he still sent his wife and four daughters to travel as scheduled on the S.S. Ville du Havre, expecting to follow in a few days. On November 22, the ship laden with his wife and daughters was struck by the Lockhearn, an English vessel, and sank in few minutes.

Wife "Saved Alone"

After the survivors were finally landed somewhere at Cardiff, Wales, Spafford’s wife cabled her husband with two simple words, "Saved alone." Shortly after, Spafford left by ship on his way where his beloved four daughters had drowned, and pen at hand, wrote this most poignant text so significantly descriptive of his own personal grief – "When sorrows like sea billows roll..." The hymn "It is Well with My Soul" was born.

It is Well with My Soul

It is noteworthy that Horatio Spafford did not dwell on the theme of life’s sorrows and trials, instead, focused in the third stanza on the redemptive work of Christ, and in the fourth verse, anticipates His glorious second coming. (Refer below for CyberHymnal’s link)

Composer Philip Bliss

Philip P. Bliss, the hymn composer, was a prolific writer of gospel songs. He was so impressed with the experience and expression of Spafford’s text that he shortly wrote the music for it, first published in one of the Sankey-Bliss Hymnals, Gospel Hymns No. 2. Shortly after writing ‘It is Well With My Soul,’ Bliss died in a tragic train accident.

On reflection, it is divinely amazing that one could experience such personal tragedies and sorrows as did Horatio Spafford, yet, able to say with such convincing clarity, "It is well with my soul." It is an enormous challenge to embrace the significance of this hymn.

"It Is Well With my Soul" H. G. Spafford

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.


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.


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!


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.


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!


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.


Other Hymns by Philip P. Bliss

  • Hold the Fort
  • I Gave My Life for Thee
  • Jesus Loves Even Me
  • Let the Lower Lights be Burning
  • Once for All

Related Best-Loved Hymns:

Lyrics and Music

CyberHymnal (click ‘MIDI’ from there)


101 Hymn Stories by Kenneth W. Osbeck, Kregel Publications, 1982


The copyright of the article History of It is Well with My Soul is owned by Tel Asiado. Permission to republish History of It is Well with My Soul in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.
Including the credits for the author does not indicate full endorsement of all their work. – Angela

5 Responses to “H.G. Spafford”

  • Kim Cass:

    May I copy from this website It is Well with My Soul and the biography of Horatio Spafford?
    God Bless,
    Kim Cass

  • Of course, Kim. Just make sure you give proper credit to the original author. 🙂

  • Kay Ward:

    I never ceased to be amazed when I sing this beautiful song.  To think that in his grief Spafford would still cling to his Lord God.  What faith! 
    We sang this song in church today and I whispered to my husband that I needed to tell him the story because it is similar to Titanic which this very weekend is the 100th anniversary of it's sinking. 
    Would that we all be like Jesus, and to have the faith of Spafford. 

    Thank you for this site.

  • Bill Breedlove:

    Throughout my life as a christian, this song has been my testimony over and over again.  Recently, my sweet wife of thirty-two years went to be with the Lord due to cancer.  I was and am heart broken over her passing.  Though I did not suffer like Mr. Spafford did with the loss of four children all at once, I can and have sung this wonderful song to a congregation from the depths of my heart.  I can truly say "It is well with my soul".

  • Bill, what a blessing to read your post. I miss Ella. She was a dear lady that I first met on the Lilacs and Butterflies message board, then onto Vessels Unto Honour. We often talked about her time in a Rebekah home, as I loved to listen to Lester Roloff sing, as did she. I even had the privilege of speaking to her on the phone a few times.

    God bless you as you continue to serve the Lord.

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