Horatio Gates Spafford, 1873
From C. Michael Hawn:
Hymnologist Kenneth Osbeck tells the story: “Desiring a rest for his wife and four daughters as well as wishing to join and assist Moody and [his musician Ira] Sankey in one of their campaigns in Great Britain, Spafford planned a European trip for his family in 1873. In November of that year, due to unexpected last-minute business developments, he had to remain in Chicago, but sent his wife and four daughters on ahead as scheduled on the S.S. Ville du Havre. He expected to follow in a few days.
“On November 22 the ship was struck by the Lochearn, an English vessel, and sank in twelve minutes. Several days later the survivors were finally landed at Cardiff, Wales, and Mrs. Spafford cabled her husband, ‘Saved alone.’”
Spafford left immediately to join his wife. This hymn is said to have been penned as he approached the area of the ocean thought to be where the ship carrying his daughters had sunk.
VILLE DU HAVRE, Philip Paul Bliss, 1876
Hymn history by hymnologist C. Michael Hawn at UMC Discipleship Ministries.
A good resource for sharing this hymn with children is Kenneth W. Osbeck’s Amazing Grace: Illustrated Stories of Hymns. This hymn is included in the collection and also available online via Google books (page 26).
Share a comment with your favorite recorded version or other resources for this hymn.