Last year a friend sent me a link to a wonderful site called the Cyber Hymnal, which is now called Hymn Time www.hymntime.com. It has thousands of wonderful church hymns, many which I have loved for years, and hundreds of which I have never heard.
As much as I love contemporary praise music, I think it is sad that we are losing these great hymns in our worship. They are so rich in doctrine and speak of great struggles and victories. So I hope especially my younger readers, will take some time to listen and appreciate these classic worship songs.
A few months ago I began copying the words of a hymn and posting it on my Myspace Dedicated To Christ profile. I tried to change it every couple of weeks or so. Now I feel led to post these hymns as a blog series instead on both my Myspace blog and here. I will include brief histories of the hymns and the writers and composers. I will also add a Scripture reference and a little about how each hymn encourages me. When I can find a video on YouTube I will add it also.
(I know I promised that my next blog series would be on the subject of prayer, and I will still pursue that as I have time. It will take more preparation than this hymn series, and I want to be at a point where I can do justice to it. My schedule right now is so hectic. When I do I will intersperse it with this series.)
I am going to begin the series with one of my favorite hymns: It Is Well With My Soul.
It Is Well With My Soul
Words by Horatio Gates Spafford 1828-1888
Music by Philip Paul Bliss1838-1876
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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Spafford was born in New York, but was living in Chicago just before this song was written. He died in Jerusalem, Israel in 1888 at the age of 60. Spafford wrote this encouraging hymn during a time of great suffering. Actually, I chose this as my first hymn of my series, because rather than writing the story of this hymn, I am posting a video which tells all about it below. That will shorten this first post since it includes my introduction.
ABOUT THE COMPOSER
Philip Bliss was born in Pennsylvania in 1828. Bliss was a prolific writer of hymns. According to Wholesome Words Christian Biorgraphy Resources (http://www.wholesomewords.org/biography/biobliss.html) he was "the second most famous Christian song writer in history." He was so moved by Spafford's poem that he decided to put it to music. He first introduced it at a ministers meeting held by D.L. Moody in Chicago in 1876. Over 1000, preachers were present. It was published in his Gospel Hymns No. Two compiled in collaboration with Ira Sankey later that same year. Unfortunately, 1876 was also the year of his tragic death in a train crash December 29.
I am not sure if Spafford actually based the hymn on these passages, but one site I found about the history of the hymn listed them as relevant passages and they certainly are in my opinion.
Run now, I pray thee, to meet her, and say unto her, Is it well with thee? is it well with thy husband? is it well with the child? And she answered, It is well:" 2 Kings 4:26
“Praise the Lord, O my soul.” Psalm 146:1
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. Psalm 46:1-3
Bless the LORD, O my soul:
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits:
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities;
who healeth all thy diseases;
Who redeemeth thy life from destruction;
who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things;
so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The LORD executeth righteousness
and judgment for all that are oppressed.
Psalm 103: 1-6
Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and
minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
"It Is Well With My Soul" narrated by Bill Gaither, sung by the Gaither Homcoming gang with solos by Guy Penrod And David Phelps,
I cannot sing this song without tears filling my eyes, especially thinking of Spafford's circumstances when he wrote it. To be encouraged in the midst of so much tragedy has to be a God thing. These verses speak so poignantly of the hope we have in Jesus. No matter what our trials or the storms that assail us, He gives us that peace. The Philippians reference above is the first verse that always comes to my mind when I sing or hear this song. How blessed is that peace that surpasses all understanding. And then the glorious thought this song expresses that our trials here are merely temporary. The One who took our sins upon Himself will return in all His splendor and glory for us!
Please leave some of your own thoughts in my comments.
101 Hymns Stories by Kenneth w. Osbeck (Copyright 1982 by Kregel Publications, p. 126-128)