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"Eternal Father, Strong to Save", from The Hymnal Army and Navy which was used by American forces during World War II

"Eternal Father, Strong to Save", is a hymn often associated with the Royal Navy or the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps. Accordingly, it is often known as the Royal Navy Hymn or the United States Navy Hymn (or just The Navy Hymn), and sometimes by the last line of its first verse, For those in peril on the sea.

Contents

History

The original hymn was written by William Whiting of Winchester, England, in 1860. It was originally intended as a poem for a student of his, who was about to travel to the United States. In 1861, John B. Dykes, an Anglican clergyman, composed the tune "Melita" for this hymn. "Melita" is an archaic term for Malta, an ancient seafaring nation and the site of a shipwreck involving the Apostle Paul mentioned in Acts of the Apostles (chapters 27-28).

Lyrics

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The original words are:

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!
O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard
And hushed their raging at Thy word,
Who walkedst on the foaming deep,
And calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!
Most Holy Spirit! Who didst brood
Upon the chaos dark and rude,
And bid its angry tumult cease,
And give, for wild confusion, peace;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!
O Trinity of love and power!
Our brethren shield in danger's hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect them wheresoe'er they go;
Thus evermore shall rise to Thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.

Certain verses have been changed in modern hymnals for stylistic reasons.

Biblical References

The first verse refers to God the Father's forbidding the waters to flood the earth as described in Psalm 104. The second verse refers to Jesus' miracles of stilling a storm and walking on the waters of the Sea of Galilee. The third verse references the Holy Spirit role in the creation of the earth in the Book of Genesis, while the final verse is a reference to Psalm 107.

U.S. Episcopal Church version

In 1940, the U.S. Episcopal Church altered three verses of the hymn to include travel on the land in the second verse (referencing Psalm 50) and in the air in the third verse (again referencing Genesis). The Hymnal 1982, which is in current use by most Episcopal congregations in the USA, has further revised this version (as Hymn #579) with opening line "Almighty Father, strong to save..." by adding the word "space" to the final verse, so it ends "...praise from space, air, land, and sea" (because by 1982 space travel was a reality); the Hymnal also has a more traditional water-only version (as Hymn #608) with opening line "Eternal Father, strong to save..."

The 1940 version incorporating sea, land, and air (but not space) goes:

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidst the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
O, hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea!
Christ, the Lord of hill and plain,
O'er which our traffic runs amain,
By mountain pass or valley low,
Wherever Lord our brethren go,
Protect them by Thy guarding hand
From every peril on the land!
O Spirit Whom the Father sent
To spread abroad the firmament,
O Wind of Heaven, by Thy might
Save all who dare the eagle's flight,
And keep them by Thy watchful care
From every peril in the air!
O Trinity of love and power!
Our brethren shield in danger's hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect them whereso'er they go.
Thus evermore shall rise to Thee,
Glad praise from air, and land, and sea!

In addition to adding "space" in the final line, the 1982 version also changed "brethren" to "people" in the second verse. Stanzas 2-3 of the version in the 1940 Hymnal were written by the American Bishop Robert Nelson Spencer (1877–1961) and published in 1937. The 1997 film Titanic anachronistically used this version, which would not have been used in 1912 [1].

Additional Verses

In US aviation circles, an additional verse is often added to the traditional hymn. The verse in question was taken from the hymn "Lord, Guard and Guide the Men Who Fly", which was written in 1915 and rearranged around the time of World War II.

Lord, guard and guide the men who fly
Through the great spaces of the sky.
Be with the travelers in the air,
In darkening storms or sunlight fair;
Oh, hear us when we lift our prayer,
For those in peril in the air!
Aloft in solitudes of space,
Uphold them with Thy saving grace.
Thou Who supports with tender might
The balanced birds in all their flight.
Lord, if the tempered winds be near,
That, having Thee, they know no fear.
— Mary C. D. Hamilton (1915)

Due to the hymn's association with the US Navy, additional verses have been written for various subdivisions and circumstances of the naval service, including Marines,

Eternal Father, grant, we pray,
To all Marines, both night and day,
The courage, honor, strength, and skill
Their land to serve, thy law fulfill
Be thou the shield forevermore
From every peril to the Corps.
— J. E. Seim (1966)

Seabees,

Lord, stand beside the men who build,
And give them courage, strength, and skill.
O grant them peace of heart and mind,
And comfort loved ones left behind.
Lord, hear our prayers for all Seabees,
Where'er they be on land or sea.
— R. J. Dietrich (1960)

The Merchant Marine,

Lord, stand beside the men who sail
Our merchant ships in storm and gale
In peace and war their watch they keep
On every sea, on thy vast deep.
Be with them Lord, by night and day
For Merchant Mariners we pray.
—Wynne McClintock (Wife of former USMMA Superintendent VADM, Gordon McClintock, USMS)

Great Lakes Merchant Seamen

Guard us O God Almighty King
From gale of fall and fog of spring
O keep us safe from shoal and reef
Proctect us from the inland seas
To long ships passing through the night
Please give Thy guidance of Thy light

The Coast Guard,

Eternal Father, Lord of hosts,
Watch o'er the men who guard our coasts.
Protect them from the raging seas
And give them light and life and peace.
Grant them from thy great throne above
The shield and shelter of thy love.
— (1955) CWO George H. Jenks, Jr., USCG

Divers and Submariners,

Lord God, our power evermore,
Whose arm doth reach the ocean floor,
Dive with our men beneath the sea;
Traverse the depths protectively.
O hear us when we pray, and keep
Them safe from peril in the deep.
— David B. Miller (1965)

Naval Nurses,

O God, protect the women who,
In service, faith in thee renew;
O guide devoted hands of skill
And bless their work within thy will;
Inspire their lives that they may be
Examples fair on land and sea.
— Lines 1-4, Merle E. Strickland (1972) and adapted by James D. Shannon (1973); Lines 5-6, Beatrice M. Truitt (1948)

Antarctic and Arctic service,

Creator, Father, who dost show
Thy splendor in the ice and snow,
Bless those who toil in summer light
And through the cold antarctic night,
As they thy frozen wonders learn;
Bless those who wait for their return.
— L. E. Vogel (1965)

Space travel,

Almighty ruler of the all
Whose power extends to great and small,
Who guides the stars with steadfast law,
Whose least creation fills with awe—
Oh grant Thy mercy and Thy grace
To those who venture into space.
Robert A. Heinlein (1947) as part of his short story "Ordeal in Space".
Eternal Father, King of Birth,
Who didst create the Heaven and Earth,
And bid the planets and the Sun
Their own appointed orbits run;
O hear us when we seek Thy grace
For those who soar through outer space.
— J. E. Volonte (1961)

Those Wounded in Combat,

Creator, Father, Who first breathed
In us the life that we received,
By power of Thy breath restore
The ill, and men with wounds of war.
Bless those who give their healing care,
That life and laughter all may share.
— Galen H. Meyer (1969), adapted by James D. Shannon (1970)

Civilians at home,

God, Who dost still the restless foam,
Protect the ones we love at home.
Provide that they should always be
By Thine own grace both safe and free.
O Father, hear us when we pray
For those we love so far away.
— Hugh Taylor (date unknown)

The United States armed forces,

Lord, guard and guide the men who fly
And those who on the ocean ply;
Be with our troops upon the land,
And all who for their country stand:
Be with these guardians day and night
And may their trust be in Thy might.
— Author Unknown (1955)

As well as the commissioning and decommissioning of a ship.

O Father, King of Earth and sea,
We dedicate this ship to thee.
In faith we send her on her way;
In faith to Thee we humbly pray:
O hear from Heaven our sailor's cry
And watch and guard her from on High!
— Author/date Unknown
And when at length her course is run,
Her work for home and country done,
Of all the souls that in her sailed
Let not one life in Thee have failed;
But hear from Heaven our sailor's cry,
And grant eternal life on High!
— Author/date Unknown

Additional Submarine verse

Bless those who serve beneath the deep,
Through lonely hours their vigil keep.
May peace their mission ever be,
Protect each one we ask of Thee.
Bless those at home who wait and pray,
For their return by night and day.
— Reverend Gale R. Williamson (1976)

United States Navy SEALs

Eternal Father, faithful friend,
Be quick to answer those we send
In brotherhood and urgent trust,
On hidden missions dangerous,
O hear us when we cry to Thee,
For SEALs in air, on land, and sea

For those deployed

Eternal Father, lord of love
We seek your blessing from above
We thank you for the time we've shared
And pause to show our hope and care
For those deployed for whom we pray
Will know your peace while underway
— Author/date Unknown

West Point Cadets

Eternal God of strength and skill
Aid students who would work Thy will
To learn the lessons reverently
Of Duty, Honor, and Country
And boldly do the task that's set
Lord, guide and guard our young cadets

Search and Rescue Personnel (SAR) and all who must face the storm

Eternal Father, stong to save,
Whose breath excites the restless wave.
Guide the course of those who strive
To find the lost, keep them alive.
For those whose families wait alone
As they search for souls to carry home.
Merciful Father protect from harm
Those who could not flee before the storm;
The sick, the poor, the old, the weak,
We pray to thee their souls to keep.
Please welcome them with open arms
If they should perish in the storm.
— David Kenneth Mason; USCG Aux. (2009)


For Members of the Navy Special Operations and Intelligence Communities:

Eternal father, Lord of day and night,
Watch over those who in Blackness fight.
O Guide those, who lives in secret lead,
Bless and keep them in their need.
Guide their families your love to share,
When they are together in your care.
— CDR. James L. Kenny USNR (Ret.)

Notable uses

This hymn was among those sung at a religious service aboard HMS Prince of Wales attended by Winston Churchill (who requested that the hymn be sung) and Franklin D. Roosevelt at the conference creating the Atlantic Charter. [2] It was also the last song sung during the Sunday, April 14 Church Service aboard the RMS Titanic just hours before it sank.[1]

Use in funerals

This hymn has been played or sung at a number of funerals for those who have served in the US Navy. It was sung at the funeral of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, played by the Navy Band at the funeral of John F. Kennedy, sung at the funeral of Richard Nixon, and played by the Navy Band and the Coast Guard Band during the funeral of Ronald Reagan. Roosevelt had served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy and Kennedy was commanding officer of PT-109 in World War II.The hymn was also played to close the funeral of R. Buckminster Fuller, as well as at the Memorial Ceremony in Norfolk, VA for the USS Cole (DDG-67) after the bombing of the ship in October 2000. This is fitting as the hymn was also played at the funeral services of those killed among the crew of the U.S.S. Maine at the beginning of the Spanish-American War. It was performed by the U.S. Navy Sea Chanters at the State Funeral of President Gerald R. Ford, who had served in the Navy during World War II in the Pacific Theater. The hymn was sung by the congregation attending the funeral of news broadcaster Walter Cronkite at St. Bartholomew's Church in New York City.

Other Uses

This hymn has been played or sung in a number of films and television programs dealing with the U.S. Navy, including Crimson Tide and JAG. It has also been used in The Right Stuff during the funeral scenes for Air Force test pilots and in The Perfect Storm (for civilians). In the show 24, the song was played as President David Palmer's casket was loaded onto an airplane bound for Arlington National Cemetery. Tennessee Ernie Ford performed the hymn on a special episode of his television program filmed on a U.S. Naval carrier to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of U.S. Naval aviation.

A recording of "Eternal Father" by the US Naval Academy Choir accompanied the closing credits of most episodes of the Navy Log TV series. For a few unusually lighthearted episodes, the hymn was omitted, and the show's own instrumental theme, "Navy Log March", was played instead.

In Making Waves, it was sung by the crew of the Royal Navy ship HMS Suffolk at the funeral of Andy Fellows.

The third verse of the hymn was used briefly in an episode of "Mr. Bean", when the titular character attends a church service; it is sung as he enters but ends before he gets a chance to join in.

Its usage in the movie Titanic is an anachronism. The version sung in the movie is the 1940 Protestant Episcopal version, which was not yet written when the Titanic sank in 1912. However, the film is essentially accurate in that the ship's passengers did sing the song - albeit in its original version - during the hymn service of Reverend Ernest Courtenay Carter.

This song is referenced in David Weber's "Flag in Exile" as part of a religious service aboard a Grayson Space Navy superdreadnought.

The last strains of the song can be heard in the video opening of Jane's Fleet Command

In his novel Nation, Terry Pratchett imagines the following extra verse:

Oh Thee who built'st the mountains high,
To be the pillars of the sky,
Who gave the mighty forest birth
And made a Garden of the Earth,
We pray to Thee to stretch Thy hand
To those in peril on the land.

Crimson Tide

The hymn is included in the movie soundtrack of Crimson Tide, composed by Hans Zimmer, notably the track "Little Ducks." A voices and orchestra arrangement of the hymn, the track is credited to Zimmer. The first verse follows the lyrics of the original hymn, however the second verse's lyrics are adapted with some alterations:

O Saviour, whose almighty word,
The winds and waves submissive heard,
Who walkedst on the foaming deep,
And calm amid its rage didst sleep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!
Amen.

External links

References

  1. ^ A Night to Remember, Walter Lord

Eternal Father, Strong to Save is in the public domain. Some of the commentary is taken from http://www.navy.mil/navydata/questions/eternal.html, which was written by a sailor or employee of the U.S. Navy during the course of the person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. Federal Government, it is in the public domain. The short quotation from Robert Heinlein is believed to be fair use. USCG source: http://www.uscg.mil/hq/chaplain/misc/coast_guard_hymn.htm The Methodist purge is described at http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/VA-news/VA-Pilot/issues/1996/vp/.htm.


Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

"Eternal Father, Strong to Save", a.k.a. "The Navy Hymn"
William Whiting and John Bacchus Dykes
"Eternal Father, Strong to Save" performed by the United States Naval Academy brass band. (help | file info or download)
Eternal Father, Strong to Save.jpg
Eternal Father, Strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bid'st the mighty Ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
O hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea.
 
O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard
And hushed their raging at Thy word,
Who walked'st on the foaming deep,
And calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
Oh hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea!
 
Most Holy spirit! Who didst brood
Upon the chaos dark and rude,
And bid its angry tumult cease,
And give, for wild confusion, peace;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea!
 
O Trinity of love and power!
Our brethren shield in danger's hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect them wheresoe'er they go;
Thus evermore shall rise to Thee,
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.

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