A Hymn to the Fallen

I just finished working on transposing a few hymns for my saxophones and while doing so I wondered what hymn strikes the heart of those who read this blog. What hymn makes your legs tremble and your eyes well up with tears?

I am very much a lover of modern worship but I do enjoy a hymn as well. For me… I think of the words of Horatio Spafford and the music of Philip Bliss. This hymn was written after two major traumas in Spafford’s life. The first was the great Chicago Fire of 1871, which ruined him financially. Not long after all four of his daughters died in a disastrous ship wreck while crossing the Atlantic. It is said that when Spafford crossed the Atlantic his ship sailed close to where the other went down and he penned the words below, which are slightly different then what Philip Bliss set to music.

“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea-billows roll,
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
“It is well, it is well with my soul.

Thou Satan should buffet, tho’ trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath 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 His cross and I bear it no more;
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh, my soul!

And, Lord, haste the day when the 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.

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.”

“I am glad to trust the Lord when it will cost me something.”
::Horatio Spafford

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~ by Dan Browne on August 30, 2007.

7 Responses to “A Hymn to the Fallen”

  1. I love “Amazing Grace”… it’d be interesting to see which of our modern worship songs survive through future generations and become true classics…

  2. in continuation to Carolyn’s comment on modern worship songs surviving…the hymns of today were once the new contemporary songs. I feel that all songs that honoring to God and draw believers to worship will be around for a long time and be passed down through the generations. some of my favorite hymns include…A Mighty Fortress is our God, I’d Rather Have Jesus, and All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name (CORONATION TUNE for you hymn nerds)

  3. I’m with you as well Carolyn and Bill. It’s amazing to see what music stands the test of time, what lyric we will be singing when we are in our 50’s and beyond. I can see some from the early 90’s that are still with us now. We will see if they’re there in a few more years.

    As long as the art is good, it will last.

  4. I have to add that the title to this post is indeed a hymn as well. It was written by my favorite composer John Williams. You can hear it on the “Saving Private Ryan” soundtrack as well as on other compilations.

  5. I think that chunking all the “hymns of old” out the window is probably not a good idea. They are so rich with theology and meaning. I like a lot of the contemporary music, but I also treasure some of those great hymns that our forefathers were writing and singing before our grandparents were even born.

  6. I have to say that “It Is Well” is the first hymn I thought of when I read the question at the top of this post. It was great to keep reading and discover it’s your own, as well! The story behind it is the reason it’s so special to me, too — to know that a man who lost everything could still praise God “when peace like a river attends his way” AND “when sorrows like sea billows roll.” You know he meant it because he knew it.

  7. Just visiting here (from everydaysingapore.blogspot.com), but wanted to say that IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL is very close to my heart also. In fact, my will directs this song to be sung at my memorial service; it summarizes my life.

    My 28-year-old son is a worship leader, and he does a great mix of hymns and contemporary worship, probably about 70/30. He does a lot of Fernando Ortega, who mixes masterfully.

    God bless you! Psalm 78

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