The popular song “It is well with my soul” was written due to the tragic event in Horatio Spafford’s life.

Horatio G. Spafford was happily married to Anna and the marriage was blessed with five children (a male child and four female children). He was also a successful lawyer and businessman in Chicago. However, this happy family was hit by a very tragic event. In 1871, their young son died with pneumonia. Later in the same year, there was a great Chicago fire outbreak and as a result, Spafford’s business lost a great deal. Yet, God in His mercy and kindness allowed the business to flourish once more.

On Nov. 21, 1873, the French ship, “Ville du Havre” was crossing the Atlantic from the U.S. to Europe with 313 passengers on board. Among the passengers on board were Mrs. Spafford and their four daughters. Mr. Spafford had earlier planned to go with his family but he found it necessary to stay in Chicago to help solve an unexpected business problem, as such he could not go with his family. He informed his wife that he would join her and their children in Europe a few days later. His plan was to take another ship to go meet them.

On the fourth day of crossing the Atlantic, the Ville du Harve collided with a powerful, iron-hulled Scottish ship, the “Loch Earn”. Suddenly, all of those on board were in a grave danger. Anna seeing what was happening, hurriedly brought her four children to the deck. She knelt there with Annie, Margaret Lee, Bessie and Tanetta and prayed that God would spare them if that could be His will, or strengthen them to endure whatever awaited them. For about approximately 12 minutes, the Ville du Harve sank rapidly beneath the black waters of the Atlantic Ocean; sinking about 226 of the passengers including the four Spafford children. What a complete loss!

Luckily for Anna, a sailor, rowing a small boat over the spot where the ship sank, spotted a woman floating on a piece of the wreckage. It was Anna, still alive. He pulled her into the boat and later were picked up by another large vessel which, nine days later, landed them in Cardiff, Wales. From there she wrote to her husband the famous telegram which began, “Saved alone, what shall I do?” Mr. Spafford later framed the telegram and placed it in his office.

Among the survivors of the tragic event was Pastor Weiss. In his message to his congregation recalled Anna saying, “God gave me four daughters. Now they have been taken from me. Someday I will understand why.” What a faith!

Mr. Spafford on receiving the telegram booked the next available ship and left to join his grieving wife in Wales. For about four days travel, the captain invited Mr. Spafford to his cabin and told him that the ship was just over the place where his children sank. Spafford was heartbroken yet, got his encouragement from the word of God according Job.

According to Bertha Spafford Vester, a daughter born after the tragedy, Mr. Spafford wrote the famous song “It Is Well With My Soul” while on this journey.

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:
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 hath 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!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
(the verse in italics are not mostly used) And Lord, haste the day when the 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.

The tune was given by Philip Bliss. He title the melody, “Ville du Harve” the the sea vessel.



Anna gave birth to three more children, one of whom died at age four with dreaded pneumonia. In August 1881, the Spaffords moved to Jerusalem. There, Mr. Spafford died and was buried in that city.

Please do well to make a donation to Abestring to help in the research and publication of great contents. CLICK HERE TO DONATE.

THE SINKING BOAT “Ville du Harve”



Minimum payable amount NGN 1
* are compulsory

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.