Perhaps you know the tragic story behind the lyrics of the hymn, When Peace Like a River? They were penned in 1876 by Horatio G. Spafford after losing four daughters in a shipwreck. His wife survived the wreck. This was just one of many tragedies this couple endured. You can read more about their life here.
Unfortunately, and as you know, tragedies are a common occurrence. I’m surrounded by family and a community in which I witness the faithfulness of saints—despite dire circumstances—on a daily basis.
“A river might bring to mind a damaging flood, but the paradox of being flooded by peace is the rich insight of the poet.” – Joanne Alberda
The testimony of saints who persevere and profess “it is well” although it may seem anything but, inspired me to write this arrangement. You’ll hear calm waters, ripples growing into rushing rapids, the rolling of sea billows and the trumpets resounding. The simple yet profound tune composed by Philip Bliss, lends itself to wonderful possibilities for harmonic and rhythmic color!
My hope is that you find solace and comfort in playing this arrangement as I do, and share it with the ones you love. Please take the time to listen and experience a moment of peace like a river.
A good portion of my inspiration to compose is thanks to my mother, Joanne Alberda. She was a dynamic professor of art and art education for over 30 years at Dordt College in my home town of Sioux Center, Iowa. Since her retirement, she continues to explore her favorite mediums: textiles and photography. Before she secured her college position, she was a pianist, an organist, a 5th grade classroom teacher and a piano teacher. I did not fall far from the tree!
Mom’s photo is featured on the cover art. Along with photography, she has a way with words. I appreciate her description of the arrangement:
The sparkle of this hymn improvisation reflects the sun dancing on the waves…bringing joy and peace.” – Joanne Alberda
The sheet music is on sale and available for a single user or a studio license.
Get your digital download below.