“It Is Well” versus the Coronavirus and economic meltdown — It’s no contest!
This started out as an extension of my previous contribution on this topic — the amazingly popular hymn “It Is Well With My Soul”, by Horatio Spafford — a post which had simply grown and grown, with multiple updates, since I first published it several years ago. Instead, I decided this installment warranted a spot of its own.
In this Spring of 2020, the dreadful COVID-19 global pandemic has given rise to a whole new crop of postings to YouTube (and other online platforms, I’m sure) offering clever and touching versions of this timeless, comforting hymn. It’s a new genre, really, that goes well beyond the balm conveyed by the song itself, as a response to despair and an expression of grounded, forward-looking faith. What’s striking, not to mention poignant, about many of these new renditions is the way they elevate the power of human connectedness — by transcending the constraints of physical isolation and shelter-in-place imperatives.
How all these folks produced what they did, technically, I know not– nor do I need to. (And, I grudgingly concede that, at least at such critical junctures, “social media” can maybe be as much blessing as bane.) In any event, I simply present their efforts as little treasures encountered in cyberspace, as a celebration of the enduring power of Horatio’s Hymn itself — and a bit of respite from the scary, uncharted waters we all find ourselves sailing upon…
First, a few individuals (some quite accomplished) accompanying themselves, in superimposed parts, on various instruments or vocally:
Next, the close harmony of a ‘classical crossover’ vocal quintet who perform and record under the name “Veritas“–
Now, two amazing “virtual choirs” — all done remotely by cell-phone from the participants’ homes: First, 15 young people from Tibet singing in their native tongue. Then, a rather amazing production offered by 31 professional studio vocalists from Nashville’s music community.
Also worth a listen is this extraordinary offering — again, performed remotely from their homes — by 92 Minnesota band directors! It is the David Holsinger arrangement “On a Hymnsong of Philip Bliss.”
At this most memorable (and strange) of Easter seasons, the last word goes to the United Methodists with their worldwide, virtual choir — Charles Wesley would be proud!
Peace & Blessings to all — and be safe!
I could not enumerate the times God has rescued me and saved my soul from darkness, discouragement and weariness by the singing of a hymn, generally by bringing one to my own heart and causing me to sing it to myself.
— Ira D. Sankey
Ira Sankey was a member of Dwight L. Moody’s ministry team in the late 19th century, and an associate of both Horatio G. Spafford and Philip P. Bliss, the author and composer, respectively, of “It Is Well With My Soul”