OXFORD — Of all the memes making the rounds on social media and the internet during the COVID-19 lockdown, one of the best is a rendition of the old hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul” by a group of Nashville studio singers.

Probably you’ve seen and heard it by now. If you haven’t, you should. Just Google the name of the song and add “Nashville Studio Singers.”

It was first called to my attention by a friend who sent me a link to it. A couple days later, it was mentioned by Rev. Eddie Rester of Oxford in his sermon that was livestreamed on the Internet — our mode of attending church the past three weeks.

Rester related the background of the origins of the song, the words of which were written in 1873 by  Horatio G. Spafford.

It’s a story that I’ve heard before, but it bears repeating, as it’s easy for many of us to get depressed with whatever lot we’re facing in these unprecedented times.

Spafford was a successful lawyer and real estate investor in Chicago, but he was no stranger to bad luck. He and his wife Anna lost a  young son to either pneumonia or scarlet fever  in 1871. That same year much of their business interests were  lost in the great Chicago fire.

By 1873, Spafford had made a financial comeback and the family scheduled a trip to  England. Spafford had to delay his departure because of a business issue, but he sent his wife and daughters on, planning to  join them later.

As Mrs. Spafford and their four daughters were crossing the Atlantic, their ocean liner collided with another ship. She was rescued, but the four girls  died.

Upon learning of the tragedy, Spafford booked passage on another ship to join his grieving wife and bring her home. When his ship passed the spot where his daughters drowned, the captain pointed it out to Spafford, who penned these words:

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.
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.
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!
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.
But Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of 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,
A song in the night, oh my soul.

In the recent rendition  of the song, more than 30 Nashville vocalists can be seen and heard harmonizing — from their homes — on cellphones.

It’s not a hymn that is associated with Easter as much as  a few other old songs. But it seems appropriate this year.

Charles M. Dunagin is the retired editor and publisher of the Enterprise-Journal in McComb. He lives in Oxford.

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