Music Ministry

Kyle Wishert, Sr.

Music Director

It is a privilege for me to serve the Lord at First Baptist Church in Clifton in the area of music. I would like to express my thanks to those of you who are using your God given talents in the music ministry here at First Baptist. We would also welcome anyone who would like to use the musical abilities that God has given them.

I believe music is an important part of the worship service and I always try to use songs that convey a Biblical message. Many of the great hymns we sing have compelling stories behind them of how God worked in the life of an individual or individuals to bring these hymns about. It is also encouraging to see how these people responded to circumstances God allowed in their lives. Probably one of the best known "Stories behind the Hymn" is that of the hymn "It Is Well With My Soul." Many are familiar with at least part of this story and it is this story I would like to share with you.

A man by the name of Horatio G. Spafford was a successful attorney in Chicago in the mid 19th century. He was the father of four daughters, an active member of the Presbyterian Church, and a loyal friend and supporter of D.L. Moody. Spafford was described by George Stebbins, a noted gospel musician as a "man of unusual intelligence and refinement, deeply spiritual, and a devoted student of the Scriptures."

Some months prior to the Chicago Fire of 1871, Spafford had invested heavily in real estate on the shore of Lake Michigan, and his holdings were wiped out by the disaster. In 1873 Spafford decided to lift the spirits of his family by taking them to Europe for a vacation. He also wanted to assist his friend D.L. Moody and his music associate, Ira Sankey in their evangelistic campaign in Great Britain. Spafford and his family were to leave for Europe in November of 1873. Due to unexpected last minute business developments, he had to remain in Chicago, but he sent his wife and four daughters on ahead as scheduled with plans to follow in a few days.

On November 22 the ship carrying his wife and daughters was involved in a collision with another ship in the middle of the Atlantic and sank in twelve minutes. Several days later the survivors finally landed in Wales, and Mrs. Spafford cabled her husband the message "Saved Alone." All four of their daughters were among the 226 people who drowned in that tragic event. Shortly afterward Spafford left by ship to join his bereaved wife. It is thought that on the sea near the area where his four daughters drowned Spafford wrote this text that so accurately described his own personal grief - "When sorrows like seas billows roll." However, Spafford's hymn doesn't dwell on the these of life's sorrow and trials but focuses attention in the third stanza on the redemptive work of Christ and in the fourth stanza anticipates His glorious Second Coming. Humanly speaking, it is amazing that one could experience such personal tragedies and sorrows as Horatio Spafford did and still be able to say so convincingly "It Is Well With My Soul."

This was not the end of the story of Horatio Spafford. In spite of all he had gone through he didn't become bitter with God, but continued serving Him. In 1881 the Spaffords fulfilled a lifelong interest in the Holy Land. They left Chicago with their two young daughters and a group of friends and settled in Jerusalem. They established the American Colony which cared for the sick and destitute. Although Horatio died just eight years later at the age of sixty, the ministry there continued.

It Is Well With My Soul

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll -

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,

It is well, it is well with my soul.

Tho Satan should buffet, tho trials should come,

Let this blest assurance control,

That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,

And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin - O the bliss of this glorious thought -

My sin, not in part, but the whole,

Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more:

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,

The clouds be rolled back as a scroll:

The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend,

"Even so" - it is well with my soul.

CHORUS: It is well with my soul, it is well, it is well with my soul