The Story of Horatio Gates Spafford
In 1871, tragedy struck Chicago as fire ravaged the city. When it was all
over, 300 people were dead and 100,000 were homeless. Horatio Gates
Spafford was one of those who tried to help the people of the city get
back on their feet. A lawyer who had invested much of his money into the
downtown Chicago real estate, he'd lost a great deal to the fire. And his one
son (he had four daughters) had died about the same time. Still, for two years
Spafford--who was a friend of evangelist Dwight Moody--assisted the homeless,
impoverished, and grief-stricken ruined by the fire.
After about two years of such work, Spafford and his family decided to take
a vacation. They were to go to England to join Moody and Ira
Sankey on one of their evangelistic crusades, then travel in Europe. Horatio
Spafford was delayed by some business, but sent his family on ahead. He
would catch up to them on the other side of the Atlantic.
Their ship, the Ville du Havre, never made it. Off Newfoundland, it
collided with an English sailing ship, the Loch Earn, and sank within 20
minutes. Though Horatio's wife, Anna, was able to cling to a piece of
floating wreckage (one of only 47 survivors among hundreds), their four
daughters--Maggie, Tanetta, Annie, and Bessie--were killed.
Horatio received a horrible telegram from his wife, only two words long: "saved
alone." Spafford boarded the next available ship to be near his grieving wife, and
the two finally met up with Dwight Moody. "It is well," Spafford told him
quietly. "The will of God be done." Though reports vary as to when he did so, that belief led
Spafford to pen the words to one of the English language's best-known hymns. Some
say he wrote it on the ship to meet his wife, around the place where his
Please click here to read the verses and hear the music to one of the most beautiful hymns of all time. Written by
Horatio Gates Spafford.
It Is Well, With My Soul.