Hymn of the Month – It is Well with my Soul

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Horatio Gates Spafford

Horatio Gates Spafford

This month is the much beloved hymn “It is Well with my Soul.” And this is a very heavy story. And I’ll start by saying most of my information is coming from the Library of Congress. There was an exhibition “The American Colony in Jerusalem” in 2005 on the history of the American Colony, a Christian utopian society that formed in Jerusalem in 1881. And Horatio Spafford (the hymn writer) was a part of it, so this exhibit included the full story of this hymn. There is so much more to the story that I won’t tell so I do encourage you to read further about the exhibition.

Horatio Gates Spafford was born in Troy, New York, October 20, 1928. He married Anna Larsen of Stavanger, Norway, in Chicago September 5, 1861. He became a very successful (and wealthy) lawyer. He was a senior partner of his firm. They were very active in their church. They became close friends with famous preacher Dwight Moody. And they were very active in abolitionist crusade.

Ten years later in 1871, their only son died of pneumonia. And the Great Fire of Chicago happened later that year, destroying Spafford’s investments. All their fortune was gone. That alone is more than enough for one family to endure over a lifetime. But it does get worse.

This was his business card in Chicago.

This was his business card in Chicago.

In 1873 to benefit Anne’s health, the family planned an extended trip to Europe. But at the last moment, Horatio was detained by real estate business. Anna and their four daughters Annie, Margaret Lee, Bessie and Tanetta, sailed to Paris on the steamer Ville du Havre. Within 12 minutes on November 21, 1873, the steamer sank in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean after it was rammed by the British sailing ship Lochearn. 

The crew of the Lochearn picked up Anna who was unconscious. They did not find her daughters. A cargo sailing vessel Trimountain arrived just in time to rescue the survivors from the Lochearn. Nine days after the shipwreck, Anna landed in Cardiff, Wales. She sent a telegram to Horatio that said, “Saved alone what shall I do. Mrs [Daniel] Goodwin [friend] Children [Annie, Maggie, Bessie, and Tanetta Spafford] Willie Culver [neighbor boy] lost go with [Rev.] Lorriaux [French minister, a fellow survivor of shipwreck] until answer reply . . . Paris. [Anna] Spafford.”

Telegram from Anna Spafford

The telegram from Anna Spafford to Horatio

Horatio immediately left Chicago to bring Anna home. On the Atlantic crossing, the captain called to Horatio to tell him that they were passing over the spot where his four daughters had been lost at sea. The story goes that he wrote “It is well with my soul” while passing over that where he lost his daughters. He wrote to Rachel, his wife’s half-sister, “On Thursday last we passed over the spot where she went down, in mid-ocean, the waters three miles deep. But I do not think of our dear ones there. They are safe, folded, the dear lambs, and there,before very long, shall we be too. In the meantime, thanks to God, we have an opportunity to serve and praise Him for His love and mercy to us and ours. I will praise Him while I have my being. May we each one arise, leave all, and follow Him.” Below is the hymn “It is Well with my Soul” that Horatio wrote while crossing over the Atlantic. Phillip Bliss wrote the tune to the hymn and named it Ville du Havre after the ship which his daughter’s died.

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Horatio and Anna return heartbroken to Chicago. In 1878 their daughter Bertha was born, two years a son Horatio. An epidemic of scarlet fever broke out and their baby son died. Sadly rumors spread all around their church about what had the Spaffords done for God to punish them. (Which allow me to pause. That is simply wrong. I immediately think of Job and his suffering. Also Jesus suffered beyond human comprehension and he was blameless. God used it for His glory and his Kingdom to come. There has always been suffering with the Church and always will be. So I hate to hear that for them. I’m sure they needed their church to support and love them, not judge.) So they left their church Fullerton Presbyterian Church. Along with a group of close friends, Horatio and Anna decide to set out of Jerusalem in August 1881. They left right after their daughter Grace was born.

Thirteen adults and three children make the journey to Jerusalem. They rent a house in the Old City and began philanthropic work. Their neighbors called them the “American Colony.” They envisioned living a communal life like the model of the early Christian church. Over the years the colony grew, past Horatio’s death in 1888. The history of the American Colony in Jerusalem is quite fascinating. Their daughter Bertha Spafford Vester founded the Spafford Children’s Center in 1925 after she took in a baby in need. The organization is still very active today caring for all people in the area.

Help is given to anyone in need, regardless of race, religion or cultural background. The Center is unusual, in an area of sectarian conflict, in having staff of different faiths working together for a common cause – the benefit of deprived and sick children.

I didn’t know about the legacy of Horatio and Anna before researching the hymn. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. You can print off a copy of the hymn here. And you can buy a print of the hymn in my shop!

Kate

Hymn of the Month – Jesus Lover of my Soul

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The first printing of the hymn, taken from Studies of Familiar Hymns, Second Series by Louis F. Benson

The first printing of the hymn, taken from Studies of Familiar Hymns, Second Series by Louis F. Benson

This month’s hymn “Jesus, Lover of my Soul” was written by the famous Charles Wesley who with his brother John founded the Methodist Church. This hymn was one of 7,000 hymns that Charles wrote. Yes I just said 7,000.

I’ve stepped up my game in researching hymns thanks to Kevin Twit who suggested the books Studies of Familiar Hymns by Louis F. Benson. I now own both volumes and will be using that my main resource. If you are into hymns and history like I am, I highly suggest buying them online! I bought both books for less than $20. Also there are some pictures inside of the original written hymn in the author’s handwriting. This story comes from volume two.

Charles was one of 19 children to Rev. Samuel and Susannah Wesley. Charles was born December 18, 1707 and grew up in the tiny town of Epworth in Lincolnshire, England. Both Charles and John attended Oxford University. They were ordained in the Church of England went to Georgia. John went as a missionary and Charles served as a secretary to General Oglethorpe who I remember studying in history class. On the ship to America, John was impressed by some German Moravians who were singing with such joy. He learned what spiritual songs could do for spiritual life. John learned German so he could translate the hymns for fellow voyagers. Seeing the Moravians love new songs and their faith sparked a fire in both Charles and John. They went back to England. Charles became out as a wandering preacher and John established the first “societies” that were the start of the Methodist church. But Charles soon couldn’t stop his love of writing poetry. There is a story about him, that after a horseback accident, he wrote about his bruises and that it “spoiled my making hymns until the next day.” On his deathbed he even dictated to his wife his last one.

charles-wesley-smallHe wrote “Jesus, Lover of my Soul” at just 33 years old in 1740. There is no known reason for him writing this hymn. Also no one is completely sure if Charles wrote it, it might have been John. The problem is the brothers printed jointly three volumes of their earlier verses 1739, 1740, and 1742. This hymn was on page 67 of the 1740 volume. But  experts on Wesleyan poems agree that the style and manner is like Charles. Also John did not agree with everything Charles wrote. He did not approve of any terms of endearment used in relating to God.

Also there is a firth verse. The original third verse is traditionally omitted, which is a shame because it’s beautiful.

Wilt Thou not regard my call?
Wilt Thou not accept my prayer?
Lo! I sink, I faint, I fall—
Lo! on Thee I cast my care:
Reach me out Thy gracious hand!
While I of Thy strength receive,
Hoping against hope I stand,
Dying, and, behold, I live!

Some of Charles’s most famous hymns are:

Arise my soul arise
And Can It Be That I Should Gain?
Christ the Lord Is Risen Today
Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
Hark! the Herald Angels Sing
Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending
Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing

I designed a printout for you of the hymn including the omitted hymn! And you really need to listen to Indelible Grace’s version on the hymn. It’s free! It’s track 5 on the Beams of Heaven album. And if you like the music, buy the album and support these indie musicians who put so much time and love into this project.

BIG SALE

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While I’ve been preparing for this sale I’ve been thinking about car sales pitches, “Everything must go!” and “You’ve never seen a sale like this!” But this sale is that! I’ve never sold work that’s in perfect condition for so little. I’ve only discontinued a little work, and I would stagger it out. But this time it’s huge. It’s at least 30 prints with so many color variations that’s it is massive. The small prints are marked down to $4 and large prints marked down to $6! So please buy some work and buy multiples!! I want to make room for new work. Click here to shop the clearance section of my etsy shop!

Kate

BIG Changes!

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I’ve not slowed down since December. I am wanting to keep this momentum so I’ve initiated a bunch of projects for myself. I’m excited about this year!

I’m going to discontinue about 30 prints starting next week! There are a lot of prints that are old that I’m simply not excited about anymore. So I’m going to offer them priced as low as $3 to get rid of them! And would you be interested in grab bags? Yes? Okay then grab bags are coming! :) This will start next MONDAY!

I’m also going to raise the prices of my prints. This has been a tough decision that has come with a lot of thought. I meant to do it last year, but just couldn’t make myself do it. I’ve only raised my prices one time in FOUR years. And paper, ink, supplies have all increased in price over the years. I’m going to raise the price of my small prints from $15 to $20 and include free U.S. shipping. Shipping has been $3.25, but now it will be included in the price. The large prints are changing from $22 to $28 with free U.S. shipping. Shipping in the U.S. for large prints was $4.50 but it will be free now. Prices will change February 1st. I’m still undecided about the price of the teeeny prints. Whew! I’m going to be honest. I’m nervous about it, but I know I need to do this. Running your own business is tough. If you find it’s easy, then please tell me everything you are doing right! HA! It would be so much easier to be sneaky about it, hoping you wouldn’t notice. But that didn’t feel right to me. Here’s hoping you understand.

Onto more fun news, Dave and I are redesigning my website and it’s going to be awesome. I’m not sure when it will go live, but hopefully soon. And I’m starting to work on a font! I’m so excited about this! I’ll be sure to share process photos over the next few months. Almost forgot – YES I’m doing a hymn calendar for 2016. I will start on it much earlier for wholesale orders.

Kate

 

Abide with Me – January Hymn of the Month

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A few weeks ago a customer told me that she was going to teach her children the hymn from each month of the hymn calendar. I thought that was just simply amazing! Hymns are slowly fading from our Christian culture and I simply don’t want that to happen. Their words are rich and moving. Frankly I feel that most of contemporary Christian music simply lacks depth and substance. When I made the hymn calendar, I had no idea what kind of response I would have. I was hoping that I’d sell the same amount of calendars that I have in previous years. But if you’ve been following me on social media, you’ll know we were constantly SOLD OUT and having to reorder! We’re even out of stock right now and waiting for another shipment from our printer (hoping they come in on Friday). Of course I’m so thankful for sales, but I am most thankful that there are still so many people that still have a love for hymns.

Throughout this year, I want to share each month a brief history of the hymn and the hymn writer from the hymn calendar.

I simply had to use “Abide With Me” for January. It felt so fitting for such a bleak and cold month. Most of this “research” has come from the scholarly website Wikipedia. ;)

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Henry Francis Lyte by Stephen Catterson Smith

Henry Francis Lyte was born June 1, 1973, in Ednam, Scotland. He was an Anglican divine (that’s their term for clergy) serving first in Sway, then Brixham, England. . Fun fact: he married Scottish-Irish Anne Maxwell who was seven years older than him. I’m seven years older than Dave! They had two daughters and three sons. His youngest child Farnham Maxwell-Lyte was a chemist and a pioneer in photographic processing.

“Lyte was a tall and “unusually handsome” man, “slightly eccentric but of great personal charm, a man noted for his wit and human understanding, a born poet and an able scholar.” He was an expert flute player and according to his great-grandson always had his flute with him.[16] Lyte spoke Latin, Greek, and French; enjoyed discussing literature; and was knowledgeable about wild flowers.” – Wikipedia article 

He wrote the poem “Abide with me” as he was dying of tuberculosis. He finished it the Sunday, hours before his farewell sermon where he had been serving for years. The next day, he left for Ita­ly to re­gain his health. He didn’t make it, though—he died in Nice, France, three weeks af­ter writ­ing these words. He died November 20, 1847. Here is an ex­cerpt from his fare­well ser­mon:

“O breth­ren, I stand here among you to­day, as alive from the dead, if I may hope to im­press it upon you, and in­duce you to pre­pare for that sol­emn hour which must come to all, by a time­ly ac­quaint­ance with the death of Christ.”

When Hymns Ancient and Modern was published in 1861, the editor, William H. Monk—whose three-year-old daughter had just died—composed his own tune, “Eventide,” for Lyte’s poem. For over a century, the bells of his church at All Saints in Low­er Brix­ham, De­von­shire, have rung out “Abide with Me” daily. The hymn was sung at the wed­ding of King George VI, at the wed­ding of his daugh­ter, the fu­ture Queen Eliz­a­beth II, and at the funeral of Nobel peace prize winner Mother Teresa of Calcutta in 1997.

And if you haven’t heard Indelible Grace’s version of Abide with Me, then you need to do it right now. And you are gonna thank me for it. It’s simply divine. I usually tear up every time I hear it. You can listen FREE on their bandcamp site. Here is the direct link to the song sung by Matthew Perryman Jones.

And I did make a print of the hymn that you can purchase here. Or you can always buy a hymn calendar! You’re not too late! It’s just January 14th and we are going to get more in stock!

Kate