5 Classic Hymns You’ll have to “Pry from My Cold Dead Fingers” #1

Back in June I wrote about four hymns I just can’t sing anymore.  Now I want to flip that, and share with you 5 hymns that I won’t stop singing until my last breath (but then I’ll just keep singing them after the Resurrection, too, so there!).

The first one I want to share with you is a true classic, and one that is probably on your list, too, if you have one:

1. 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.

Chorus:

     It is well, with my soul,
     It is well, with my soul,
     It is well, it is well, with my soul.

2. 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.

3. 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!

4. 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.

Even if you don’t know the history of this hymn by Horatio Spafford (who used to be a local Lansingburg resident, don’t you know), it is one that tends to resonate deeply.  Once you do, however, it’s depth is nothing short of transformational.  This entry from the Wikipedia entry is actually a good summary of how the song came to be:

This hymn was written after several traumatic events in Spafford’s life. The first was the death of his only son in 1871 at the age of four, shortly followed by the great Chicago Fire which ruined him financially (he had been a successful lawyer). Then in 1873, he had planned to travel to Europe with his family on the SS Ville du Havre, but sent the family ahead while he was delayed on business concerning zoning problems following the Great Chicago Fire. While crossing the Atlantic, the ship sank rapidly after a collision with a sailing ship, the Loch Earn, and all four of Spafford’s daughters died. His wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, “Saved alone . . .”. Shortly afterwards, as Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed near where his daughters had died.

This month we celebrate the birthdays of our two daughters.  I cannot imagine the sense of loss and mourning this man went through.  We know the loss of a child through miscarriage, and a decade and a half later a child we never met still has left a hole.  I simply can’t imagine the Spafford’s grief…”when sorrows like sea billows roll” is no mere poetic line.  More than that, I’m humbled and blown away by their faith in God.  “Let this blest assurance control…”  That, my friends, is the very definition and core of faith in Christ–the “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).  That’s a faith I want to sing about!

There’s a second reason I won’t stop singing this one, and why its second stanza is scribbled into my Bible in the margins next to Colossians 2:13-15.  Few songs cut straight to the core of my being like this line: “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!”  That’s the grace of God set to a tune, and it’s a tune that you not only will find yourself singing as you walk, it’s one that you’ll find puts joy in your step, and confidence in your stride.

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

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2 Responses to 5 Classic Hymns You’ll have to “Pry from My Cold Dead Fingers” #1

  1. James says:

    A few months after writing this, I learned that the Presbyterian congregation that Horatio Spafford’s parents attended, and the one in which he was baptized, was planted in NY by my grandmothers g-g-g?-great grandfather. Small world!

  2. Pingback: 5 Classic Hymns You’ll have to “Pry from My Cold Dead Fingers” #4 | The Time Has Come

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