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9 thoughts on “The True Story Behind the Hymn “It Is Well with My Soul””

  1. J.D. Shaw says:

    While I love this hymn and sing it regularly in my church, I’ve had concerns about doing so after having read this: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/10/books/review/Oppenheimer-t.html?scp=1&sq=horatio+spafford&st=nyt.

    How, if at all, should information like this inform our hymn-singing in the church today? Is this relevant information or not for Christians today?

  2. Richard says:

    J.D.,

    I think that is a good question as well. I read the book you linked to. The author makes clear, with a lot of documentation, that the Spaffords abandoned the faith for some pretty peculiar beliefs–particularly, Anna Spafford, who set up her own cult in Jerusalem. I wonder how this is played in “The Rebel’s Guide to Joy.”

  3. my dad’s comment on hearing the story told else where.

    “So the guy, sails by the place where his wife died and writes ‘it is well’… there’s a sign his marriage was on the rocks.” haha

    1. What? says:

      What is wrong with you? His wife didn’t die there and nothing about this is funny.

      1. Daryl Little says:

        Chill.

  4. I love the song, but am troubled by the reports of this couple later in life. If they are true, this video seems almost misleading, as it leaves out what I think many would consider pertinent information concerning the life of the author of this popular hymn.

    1. Richard says:

      They are true, Brian. The incidents are pretty well documented of the Spaffords’ abandonment of the faith so some pretty cult-like beliefs.

  5. Melody says:

    I also thought that Horatio DID eventually give into despair, taking his own life. Although I suppose it’s possible that “Adventure’s in Odyssey” misled me to make for a more sensational episode on how Christians handle chronic mental illness. But if the Spaffords did abandon their faith I guess it makes sense that he wouldn’t have been trusting in God any more. Sad.

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Justin Taylor, PhD


Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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