By the time the COVID-19 lockdowns started here in Orange County, California on St. Patrick’s Day 2020, I’d been having some trouble focusing on new creative work “thanks” to all the new information (and misinformation) flooding in regularly. For whatever reason, I pulled out a hymnal I’d picked up at a used book store a few years back and started playing through various hymns I’d been familiar with, be it from when I was growing up or from playing on local church worship teams over the past decade or so.
One of the latter type — I think I initially learned it in the early 2010s — felt particularly applicable to the times due to its story’s having arisen from tragedy in the life of the lyricist, Horatio Spafford. He’d been a successful lawyer and real estate investor in Chicago, but his young son died, then he lost most of his properties in the great Chicago fire. A while after that, he made plans to travel with his wife and four daughters to Europe, but his family went ahead due to his having some business to wrap up first. On their way over, the ship they were traveling on sank, and only his wife survived. When he finally traveled over to join her, he wrote the lyrics to “It Is Well With My Soul” around the spot where his daughters had died.
I got thinking about recording the song. I wasn’t quite sure how I’d do it style-wise — I’d been thinking along a synth-oriented pop direction initially — and I didn’t start working on it immediately. In the meantime, a Facebook friend posted a link to a video of a bunch of Nashville session singers doing a virtual cellphone acapella version of the song on March 25th, and it was really good. In fact, it was good enough that I started having second thoughts. Eventually, though, I decided my version would be decidedly different — there’s no way I could do a virtual acapella choir recording! — and I decided to give it a go.
I started my recording on Palm Sunday, and it ended up going in a much more rock-oriented direction than I’d initially expected. It took me almost exactly two weeks to finish the recording, and this is the result.
Performed, produced, engineered, mixed, and mastered by Rick Paul.
Cover artwork and photography by Rick Paul.
Release Date: May 15, 2020