Nearly 150 years after the hymn It Is Well was penned in the midst of tragedy, a new “virtual choir” rendition is bringing hope to countless Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ten Two Six Music Group this week released a video showing 31 Nashville studio singers singing the song that Horatio Spafford wrote after his four daughters drowned at sea in 1873.
Each singer recorded his or her part on a cell phone. It then was arranged by producer David Wise, a Dove Award winner who has worked with Lady Antebellum, Dolly Parton, Steve Green and Sandy Patti and also has had arrangements published with Word Music and Lifeway Music, two Christian companies.
The powerful harmony-filled video quickly went viral. As of Friday, it had 1.2 million views on Facebook and nearly 200,000 on YouTube for a total of 1.4 million views.
The singers’ goal, according to the company, was “to record and lift their collective voices to share a message of hope and encouragement during these challenging days. It is well.”
“Beautiful voices, beautiful souls lifting our hopes and spirits during this season. Praise God! It is well with my soul!!!” one person wrote on Ten Two Six Music Group’s Facebook page.
Another wrote, “This made my day and so encouraged my soul today!! Thank each of you for sharing your beautiful vocal gifts from God with us!!”
Spafford (1828-1888) was an American lawyer, real estate investor and church elder. In 1873, he and his wife, Anna, and their four daughters had “planned to visit Europe as a family, but business kept Horatio behind,” according to a “behind the song” feature on AmericanSongwriter.com.
“On the voyage, the ship Anna and their four daughters were traveling on struck another vessel and sank rapidly. Only Anna survived; she sent a hauntingly brief telegram to Horatio bearing the words ‘Saved alone,’” according to the story.
“... [O]n his own voyage to meet Anna as his ship neared the place where his daughters had drowned, he was inspired to write the lyrics for hymn It is Well with My Soul. Unlike many heartbreak songs, it focuses less on what was lost and more on where hope can be found,” according to American Songwriter. “No doubt Spafford was shattered by the loss of his daughters, but his heart turned to the faithfulness of God in the midst of loss and the work of Jesus to rescue sinners. The hymn does not diminish or gloss over pain and tragedy but rather proclaims that God is present in them and greater than them.”
Photo courtesy: Ten Two Six Music Group Screenshot
Video courtesy: Ten Two Six Music Group
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.