Horatio Spafford

20 October 1828–16 October 1888

Horatio Gates Spafford (b. North Troy, N.Y., Oct. 20, 1828; d. Jerusalem, Oct. 16, 1888), after early life in New York, moved to Chicago in 1856, where he established a successful legal practice and served as professor of medical jurisprudence of Lind University, later Chicago Medical College. A Presbyterian layman, he was a Sunday School teacher, and active in YMCA work. He served as a director and trustee for the Presbyterian Theological Seminary of the Northwest, established in Chicago by Cyrus McCormick. In 1870 he spent four months in England and Scotland. In Edinburgh he met Dr. Piazza Smith, Astronomer Royal for Scotland, and became greatly interested in the archaeology of the Bible.

Some months prior to the Chicago fire in 1871, Spafford had invested heavily in real estate on the shore of Lake Michigan, and his holdings were wiped out by the fire. The tragic deaths of his four daughters was compounded by the death of his son in 1880. The unsympathetic attitude of Christian friends in the midst of their sorrow caused the Spaffords to decide to leave Chicago, and the interest in the Holy Land which began a decade before, turned their attention to Jerusalem. In 1881, with a group of friends, they settled in Jerusalem where they established the American Colony. The unusual experiences of this extraordinary family and the significant work of the American Colony in Jerusalem is vividly told by his daughter, Bertha Spafford Vester, in her book Our Jerusalem.

by William J. Reynolds
Hymns of Our Faith (1964)

Featured Hymns:

It is well with my soul

Publications of Hymns:

Gospel Hymns, No. 2 (1876): PDF
The International Lesson Hymnal (1879): PDF
The Finest of the Wheat No. 2 (1894): PDF

Related Resources:

Julian P. Boyd, Horatio Gates Spafford, Inventor, Author, Promoter of Democracy (Worcester, MA, The Society, 1942): WorldCat

Bertha Spafford Vester, Our Jerusalem: An American Family in the Holy City, 1881-1949 (Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday, 1950): WorldCat | Amazon

William J. Reynolds, “Horatio Gates Spafford,” Hymns of Our Faith (Nashville: Broadman, 1964), p. 410.

Thomas E. Corts, Seeking Solace: The Life and Legacy of Horatio G. Spafford (Birmingham, AL: Samford University Press, 2013): Amazon

“It is well with my soul,” Spafford Hymn, Kosinski Studio:

“The American Colony in Jerusalem: Family Tragedy,” Library of Congress:

Horatio Spafford, Hymnary.org:

Horatio Spafford, Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology: