Horatio Spafford was a prominent lawyer and real estate investor in Chicago when the 1871 Chicago Fire hit and destroyed almost all of his property. Two years later, Spafford sent his wife and four daughters ahead of him to England, where his friend DL Moody would be preaching. On the voyage there, the ship sank and all four children were drowned. His wife alone was saved. The couple went on to have three more children, but tragedy struck again when their four year old son died of pneumonia in 1880. Near the end of his life, Spafford moved to Jerusalem and ran charitable ventures like soup kitchens, hospitals, and orphanages. He died in 1888 of malaria and was buried in Jerusalem.
While Spafford endured crippling tragedy after tragedy, he is most famous for having written one of the most beloved hymns of all time: "It Is Well With My Soul."
In the midst of serious personal sorrow, God brought this servant of His to a place of peace and security wholly independent of his circumstances.
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.
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 His 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 pain shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to 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.