This song is referred to as “It is well”, “It is well with my soul” or as the opening lyrics “When peace like a river”. This popular Christian hymn was written by Horatio Gates Spafford and composed by Phillip Bliss. We’ll first look at the chords you can use for this song, learn the melody and finally look at a finger style guitar arrangement.
How to read the guitar chord charts
To clarify how to read the chord charts, the top horizontal line represents the high E string and the bottom horizontal line represents the low E string. The vertical lines separate each fret. The numbers in the blue dots tell you which fingers to use on the fretting hand.
For example, on the A Major chord, you use the:
- 3rd finger on the 2nd string, 2nd fret
- 2nd finger on the 3rd string, 2nd fret
- 1st finger on the 4th string, 2nd fret
- Circles represent open strings
- X means to avoid the string
You can check this link for more on how to read guitar notation symbols.
It Is Well – Chords in A Major
The chords you can use for “It is well / When peace like a river” are A Major, B minor 7, E Major, F# minor, B 7, E sus 4, D Major, and A sus 4.
Try the following chords one at a time until you feel comfortable switching between them. These chords will be written above the melody in the next section.
Here are some other resources on chords:
- What are the first chords you should learn on guitar?
- 6 tips to get better at switching between chords on guitar
- 5 tips to get better at playing barre chords
It is well – Melody with tabs and chords
For the sheet music below, keep in mind that the chords and melody are meant to be played as separate parts. We’ll look at how to connect these parts later in the arrangement section of this post.
The numbers next to some notes on the top staff indicate which fingers to use on the fretting hand. You can refer to this simple guide to understanding music symbols if needed.
Continue playing the same chord when a new measure doesn’t indicate a chord.
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.”
It is well with my soul;
it is well, it is well with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
let this blest assurance control:
that Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
and has shed his own blood for my soul. (Chorus)
My sin oh, 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! (Chorus)
O 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)
Reference: When Peace, like a River. hymnary.org
It is well – Guitar arrangement
In this section, we are essentially connecting the melody and chords together using a finger picking method of playing. If needed, check out this post to learn how to finger pick on guitar.
If you like this style of playing, you can check out this post to learn how to connect a melody and chords on guitar.
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Want to learn more songs? Check out the sheet music with guitar tabs resource on this site.
All the best,