Today, as a refrain for the pastoral prayer, the congregation sang together the refrain to “It Is Well with My Soul.” Horatio Spafford wrote the hymn in 1873 not long after his four daughters died in a shipwreck. Philip Bliss wrote music for the hymn in 1876. Knowing the story behind its composition and hearing its beautiful music make singing this hymn a deeply moving experience for me. Every time I sing it, I wonder again, How can someone in so much grief sing “it is well with my soul?” In similar circumstances, could I do the same?
The other thing about singing this hymn is just how much more meaningful it is to sing it with others. Today, we sang it unaccompanied (the BEST way to sing it!). The call and response–especially when sung in parts–is…I’ve already used the words “holy” and “beautiful.” Anyway, it’s really, really great.
The thing that struck me today–in addition to the comforting harmonies and words–was the way the congregation started breathing together. Without the sound of the piano to lean on, we had to listen to each other. And when we listened to each other, we slowed down our singing….and we started taking our breaths together. It was an intimate, peace-filled, calming experience. I know there were many people present who are struggling right now…all of us are dealing with something we’d rather not be dealing with…somehow, though, singing together, breathing together, made the words real…”It is well with my soul. It is well, it is well with my soul.”
Thanks be to God!