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It is well with my soul

   
The 3 Tenors with Francis & Rosaline
Bath, 7 August 2003

Their work done and their 50,000+ audience safely and happily on its way home, Jose Carraras, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti (The Three Tenors) joined Tan Sri Francis Yeoh, Puan Sri Rosaline Yeoh, members of the wider Yeoh family, employees of YTL and its British water utility company Wessex Water along with a number of guests that included senior figures from the world of international business, the media, politics and entertainment, for a special post-concert celebration dinner.

Also present at the dinner was Lady Djemila Cope of Bath, great grand-daughter of Horatio Spafford, who in 1873 lost his four daughters at sea in a shipping disaster and later that year wrote the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul”. The hymn, requested by Tan Sri Francis Yeoh to be included in the concert programme, was sung beautifully by “The Three Tenors” earlier in the evening and Yeoh shared the story with dinner guests.

   
As the performers at The YTL Concert of Celebration 2003 basked in its glory, the Tenors and all present praised the vision, direction and hands-on management style of Yeoh, the man who made this outrageous dream a reality.

Over dinner, the chat amongst new friends was of the amazing scenes they had just witnessed, the impact of the ‘experience’ they truly had felt part of, and they way in which they had been touched by the events of this incredible evening.

As the party broke up in the early hours of this morning all-present agreed that memories of the concert and this special dinner would live with them in their hearts forever.


Speech by Tan Sri Francis Yeoh
Managing Director of The YTL Utilities (UK)
At The Post Concert Dinner of The YTL Three Tenors Concert of Celebration in Bath, United Kingdom

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Can you all put your hands together to salute the splendid performance of the three maestros, the orchestra and also the choir and not forgetting Andrea Griminelli and the conductor Janos Acs.

I shall not bore you with another long speech but I am compelled to tell this incredible touching story of the writer of the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul”.

It is indeed one of my favourite hymns. Recently I heard the hymn sung beautifully by two tenors in a tribute to Billy Graham, the great evangelist. A thought struck me like lightning that the Three Tenors could do this just as well. When the Three Maestros agreed to legally sing this hymn I immediately dived into the archives to research the origin of this song.

Unbeknownst to me and many others, this song was written by Horatio G. Spafford at the height of his pain and suffering. In 1873, he planned a trip to Europe with his family. Business affairs delayed his departure, but he sent his wife and four daughters ahead on a ship to France. At mid-ocean the ship was struck and sank. Horatio Spafford received a devastating telegraph message later from his wife, “Saved Alone”.

Now onboard the first possible ship out of New York, Spafford stood at the bridge, where disaster struck, contemplating the loss of his girls for a long time.

He went down to his cabin to write this poem. He was reassured with God’s words in Isaiah that gave him peace. He then wrote, “When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, thou has thought me to say, It is well, It is well with my soul.”

   
I wonder how many of us here with us tonight can cope with such devastation and still praise the Grace of God.

Like Job in the scriptures, many accused him of hidden sins to have been inflicted by God with one tragedy after another. They were asked to ‘leave’ their church, and with their unflinching faith the Spaffords left for Jerusalem.

When I learnt of this great story, I immediately prayed that I could find their descendants and invite them to the concert in Bath to honour their great, great grandfather. An American descendant, Georgette Lind responded with joy that her cousin is now in Bath and rather fortuitously wanted some tickets to the concert.

Georgette Lind told me their cousin in Bath will represent the family. Well, she is here with us tonight; she is none other than Lady Djemila Cope of Bath.

I have always said that God write beautiful scripts and we are but humble willing pencils. Tell me, who can really write a better script than this?

Well, Djemila, I hope all the descendants of Horatio G. Spafford whom you represent tonight will live in joy and peace that we have all in our humble attempts tried to honour him. I know all of you are doing wonderful work in the Spafford Children’s Centre in Jerusalem today.

We are reminded tonight that tears of affliction are often needed to keep the eye of faith bright. There is indeed something very holy in a true man’s tears. In honouring Horatio G. Spafford, we are also honouring God; therefore our spirits are also lifted up!

Djemila, your great, great grandfather, anchored in the winds of faith, went to Jerusalem to sit nearer to God. Tonight, we all join him in spirit at the highest place of honour, at the feet of our Lord. God bless him, and God bless all of you. Thank you all very much.


Speech by Tan Sri Francis Yeoh
Managing Director of The YTL Utilities (UK)
At The Post Concert Dinner of The YTL Three Tenors Concert of Celebration in Bath, United Kingdom
on 7 August 2003.


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