Behind the Hymn: It Is Well With My Soul

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It Is Well was probably one of the toughest hymns to re-arrange. I think the more popular, and engrained into memory, something is, the harder it is to change. This hymn is so well-known, and already has so many different arrangements over the years, that it felt daunting just considering it for this record.

The brief history of this hymn is that it was written by Horatio Spafford as he traveled by boat across the Pacific Ocean. The same spot where most of his family had drown. He had sent them ahead of him to England. He stayed behind to wrap up some business things. Their boat hit another ship and capsized killing Horatio's four daughters.

His wife sent him a message immediately..."saved alone," she said.

So it's very heavy. It's very much reminiscent of Job experiencing all the pain and suffering only to say, "the Lord gives and the Lord takes away, but blessed be the name of the Lord."


My wife, Angela, volunteered for a long time at the Denton Crisis Pregnancy Center. It was great because she was able to share with these young mothers the truth about being pregnant and share the good news of the gospel with each client. She told me one day that her mentor at the clinic, an older lady that my wife looks up to, encouraged her to think of the worst thing that could happen. For most of us, that involves the loss of our children, or a spouse or something similar. She said when you let your heart contemplate that, and think through that happening, it will bring out whether or not it truly would be, "well with your soul." Not saying it would be easy or trite, but that in devastation God would still be your rock to stand on. I'm pretty convinced that's why Jesus had to say things like,

"If any of you loves mother or father more than me, you are not worthy of me."

Jesus isn't saying don't love your family. He's just saying, love me more. That's the only way it will ever be "well with our soul:" If we love Jesus more.


@Jillian Smith is the lead for this beautiful hymn. She helps lead worship at the Village with her husband, David, who plays electric. We really love Jillian. She and David were in our inner circle in Dallas. I can't say enough about their friendship. Just to show you how much they care about Selena and us, they decided back a few years ago to go with us on one of our annual trips to visit Selena.


A couple of funny things about this picture:

a. That is David's excited face.

b. Selena is in the back right being held by someone else :)

We miss them so much. I hope this hymn continues to encourage us to put our idols on the table, and to tell Jesus we love you more than these: It Is Well.