I have recently returned to some of my routines, one of those being playing in my church’s praise team. This past service we did a song titled “It Is Well”. This version is a mix of modern praise and an old hymn. The course states “through it all, through it all, my eyes are on You. Through it all, through it all it is well” and later morphs into the hymn “It is well, with my soul.” The history of the hymn adds so much to understanding of the newer praise lyrics. So here is a brief historic reference.
Writer Horatio Stafford suffered through some very difficult circumstances. He was, at first, a prominent lawyer in the 1860’s. During that time he invested heavily in real estate in Chicago. Guess what happened in 1871. Yep, the Great Fire. Sending him into financial ruin. A couple years later after overcoming his capital losses, Stafford decided to take his family over the Atlantic. A last minute change of plans put him leaving later on a different ship. The boat his family was on sank killing his four daughters. His wife alone survived. It was on his way, as he past where his daughters drowned that he wrote “Ville Du Havre” titled after the boat that sank. Which would later be known as the hymn “It Is Well”. I had heard this story many times. For your infoemation this information is paraphrased from Wikipedia.
I did learn some new information while researching. He later lost a son to scarlet fever. After that the church labeled all of these events in his life as “Devine Punishment”. This spurred him to form a new messianic sect known as “the overcomers”. They lived in Jerusalem where the group grew to become a major humanitarian organization helping communities recover after World War I.
All of this has sparked me to consider the word “well”. The noun well is a described as an issue of water from the earth, a pit or sink hole, or an enclosure in a ships hold. The verb means to rise to the surface and usually flow forth. The adverb is when someone does something in a successful way, good and proper. And then there is the adjective that means prosperous, of satisfactory condition.
When Horatio Stafford themed his song with the term “well”. I am sure he didn’t mean the noun, well. Although it is fun to insert sink hole instead of well into conversations. I am pretty sure he was referring to the adjective form. Oh, he could’ve described his situation as being in a pit or a sink hole but instead he chose to look at it contrary to the norm. The lyrics don’t say everything will be ok but that it is well with my soul now. Also, if he would have believed the “churches” Devine Punishment theory I don’t think his soul would have felt so well.