Praise the Lord, O my soul.@Psalm 146:1
Horatio G. Spafford (1828–1888)

Horatio G. Spafford, 1876.

Ville du Havre Philip P. Bliss, in Gospel Hymns No. 2, by P. P. Bliss & Ira D. Sankey (New York: Biglow & Main, 1876), number 76 (note: published in a combined volume with the 1875 Gospel Hymns and Sacred Songs) (🔊 pdf nwc). Ironically, Bliss himself died in a train wreck shortly after writing this music.

Philip P. Bliss (1838–1876)

When Mr. [Dwight L.] Moody and I were holding meetings in Edinburgh, in 1874, we heard the sad news of the loss of the French steamer, Ville de Havre, on her return from America to France, with a large number of members of the Ecumenical Council, whose meetings had been held in Philadelphia [Pennsylvania]. On board the steamer was a Mrs. Spafford, with her four children. In mid-ocean a collision took place with a large sailing vessel, causing the steamer to sink in half an hour. Nearly all on board were lost. Mrs. Spafford got her children out of their berths and up on deck. On being told that the vessel would soon sink, she knelt down with her children in prayer, asking God that they might be saved if possible; or be made willing to die, if that was His will. In a few minutes the vessel sank to the bottom of the sea, and the children were lost. One of the sailors of the vessel, named Lockurn—whom I afterward met in Scotland—while rowing over the spot where the vessel disappeared, discovered Mrs. Spafford floating in the water. Ten days later she was landed at Cardiff, Wales. From there she cabled to her husband, a lawyer in Chicago [Illinois], he message Saved alone. Mr. Spafford, who was a Christian, had the message framed and hung up in his office. He started for England immediately to bring his wife to Chicago. Mr. Moody left his meetings in Edinburgh and went to Liverpool to try to comfort the bereaved parents, and was greatly pleased to find that they were able to say, It is well; the will of God be done.

In 1876, when we returned to Chicago to work, I was entertained at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Spafford for a number of weeks. During that time Mr. Spafford wrote the hymn, It is well with my soul, in commemoration of the death of his children. P. P. Bliss composed the music and sang it for the first time at a meeting in Farwell Hall. The comforting fact in connection with this incident was that in one of our small meetings in North Chicago, a short time prior to their sailing for Europe, the children had been converted.

This hymn was heard by a gentleman who had suffered great financial reverses in the panic of 1899, and who was in the deepest despondency. When he learned the story of the hymn he exclaimed: If Spafford could write such a beautiful resignation hymn I will never complain again.

Sankey, pp. 168–70

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.