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:
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.