Thursday, August 21, 2008

It Is Well With My Soul: A Family History In Song And Images

I don't often delve into certain topics on this blog, having been reared with the admonition not to discuss religion or politics with strangers. But even without looking at the story of Horatio Spafford through the lens of religion, one must be struck in amazement at how a man beset with such troubles and hardships could live a life being better, not bitter.

My genea-blogging colleague Terry Thornton at Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississipi has already gone into much detail about Spafford and how the death of his son, the Great Chicago Fire and the shipwreck which took his four remaining daughters inspired, if that is the appropriate word, the lyrics to the hymn It Is Well With My Soul.

I never heard this song growing up since it wasn't part of the musical liturgy at the Catholic church I attended. It wasn't until I was exploring various Protestant denominations while in my 20's that I came to learn and love this hymn, especially the first verse.

Imagine my surprise when I came across a music video of The Innocence Mission's version of It Is Well With My Soul which was produced by Bluefish TV. Not only does it convey the story of Spafford's life but it is such a well produced piece of family history condensed in a less-than three minute video. If I could only condense the stories of my family and ancestors in such a beautifully produced format!

I place this video right up there with John Catching's version of the hymn and look at it when I know I need to be better, and not bitter.


Terry Thornton said...


Thanks for finding and posting about "It is well with my soul." This is a beautifully produced account of the Spafford family of Chicago set to an honest simple rendition of his words --- I've never heard this old hymn done better.

I recommend that all your readers click your link to the video and watch and listen and read and learn --- and yes maybe be inspired by the sad history of the Spaffords from Chicago.

Terry Thornton
Fulton, Mississippi

Family Curator said...

Oh, Thomas. I can barely see through my tears to write this. What a moving video and story. Thank you for bringing it to us.

Zeriouslly said...

Thats a great little video clip. I went one further and made a 50 minute video documentary about a pair of our founding ancestors. Video is fast becoming a very real way of presenting family history. It can raise emotions (just like this clip) and show ancestors lives in a way that is hard to convey in a book. A great fundraiser too.
Its not that hard to do - the softwares inexpensive, all you have to do, apart from titles, is lay down a audio track, then add video comprised of photos and footage.
Our family loved it...

Anonymous said...


Thanks for sharing. I didn't know his story nor his inspiring hymn. I will certainly share it.

From a video perspective, I now have some new ideas. I've done "music videos" for living relatives, but I never thought to do something similar for my deceased ones.


Zeriouslly said...

thanks Donna
Check out the opening sequence to my doco at

It might inspire you to more ideas..


Miriam Robbins said...

Thomas, this hymn was sung by a couple of young women at the funeral of my 16-year-old cousin, Carrie, who died just a few days before my wedding; she was to have been my maid of honor. She lost her battle with brain cancer 16 months after being diagnosed, and 17 months after her older brother--my age--suddenly died in his sleep at Gonzaga University. Someday I'll write a memorial to Chris and Carrie on my blog, but 21 years later, it's still very painful.

Julie said...

Thomas on of my favorite worship songs! Thank you for sharing the story of the Spaffords. But for the Grace of God Go I!

The video was well done and I agree a nice piece of family history as well.

Julia McCartney Hogston
Wandering Roots