Select one of the keywords
Finding Anna: Music of the Heart    by Christine Schaub order for
Finding Anna
by Christine Schaub
Order:  USA  Can
Bethany, 2005 (2005)
* *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Have you ever wondered what inspired some of the world's most renowned hymns? Who was the writer and what circumstances led to the words sung for hundreds of years? Finding Anna, first in a series of fictionalized stories behind the hymns, features Horatio Gates Spafford, author of one of the most heart-wrenching and compelling hymns - It is Well With My Soul.

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 is a turning point for the Spafford family. Although they're spared loss of life or of their home, Horatio, a well known lawyer and real estate developer, loses almost everything relating to his business. Using the blessings God has provided them, Horatio and his wife Anna open their homes and their lives to others in less fortunate positions. Anna holds down the homefront, while Horatio applies his skills to help rebuild the city. Along the way, he meets evangelist D.L. Moody, who becomes a close friend and mentor.

Anna becomes discouraged and disheartened. While Horatio is doing powerful work, she's stuck at home for hours and sometimes days without seeing him. She works hard to help those living around them and with them, but she misses her husband. Just when things seem darkest, Horatio sees what he is doing to his family and they decide to take a trip to England together to help with Moody's ministry. The family will finally be participating in work together. But, as many people know, the ending to the Spaffords' story is not a happy one. Tragedy strikes and, in his suffering, Horatio Gates Spafford pens 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.

Although this is a fictionalized account, the main message and general story are true to the facts. Finding Anna is a superbly written and researched story, based on the lives of historical figures. Though I already knew the basics of Spafford's story, the book makes him real and makes the hymn that much more meaningful to the reader. Although the book is incredibly uplifting and inspirational, it is a difficult one to process emotionally. However tears of sadness quickly turn to joy when the reader sees how Mr. Spafford comes to rely so deeply on God for peace and healing.

Many secondary storylines and characters add depth to the plot. Schaub has a gift for bringing characters to life and helping the reader see them as real people, even though they lived a century ago. The lessons learned by the characters are still relevant today - about trusting in God no matter the circumstances, and realizing God is in control even through dark times. My only complaint is that there were a few slow portions of the story even though it's not particularly long. I look forward to additional volumes in the Music of the Heart series.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Historical books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews