Hymn written by Horatio Spafford following a series of personal tragedies: the death of his oldest son in 1871, the great fire of Chicago (more or less ruining him) and last but not least the death of his four daughters, all victims of the sinking of the S.S. Ville du Havre while crossing the Atlantic. Only his wife survived and while Spafford tried to join her, taking the next ship available, this is what he wrote at about the spot where his daughters drowned. Originally Bliss named his tune after the fatal ship S.S. Ville du Havre.
The Spaffords had three more children but only two survived. In 1881 they all emigrated to Palestina as part of the American Colony, later the subject of Nobel Price winner Selma Lagerlöf's novel Jerusalem.