Navy Hymn (Eternal Father, Strong to Save)
DESCRIPTION: "Eternal father, strong to save, Whose arm does bind the restless wave... O hear us when we cry to thee, For those in peril of the sea." The singer prays to Father, Savior, Holy Spirit, and "Trinity of love and pow'r" for protection, and will praise God
AUTHOR: Words: William Whiting / Music: John Bacchus Dykes
EARLIEST DATE: 1860 (Whiting's manuscript copy; see notes)
KEYWORDS: sailor religious nonballad navy
FOUND IN: Britain US
REFERENCES (1 citation):
NOTES: John Julian, editor, A Dictionary of Hymnology, 1892; second edition 1907 (I use the 1957 Dover edition in two volumes), p. 356, reports:
Of this hymn the following texts are known:--
1. The original MS, 1860....
2. The revised text by the Compilers of Hymns A[ncient] & M[odern], 1861, No. 222. This is the most widely used of any.
3. A revision made by the author... [in] 1869....
4. A Latin version also by Whiting.... [1867, based on the Hymns Ancient & Modern version rather than Whiting's own original]
The lack of hymns for that at sea, together with its merits as a hymn, rendered it exceedingly popular from its first publication, and its use has become most extensive in English-speaking countries. Hodges, of Frome, has published a short tale founded thereupon, and entitled "Hymn 222." - RBW
LindaJo H. McKim, Presbyterian Hymnal Companion, Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993, pp. 562-563, reports that this was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's favorite hymn, and was sung at his funeral. The tune was played after the death of John F. Kennedy. The melody is called "Melita," after the ancient name of the island of Malta. I do not know why it is connected with Malta, unless it's the fact that composer John B. Dykes (1823-1876) was curate of Malton (with an n) for a time starting in 1847 (McKim, pp. 83-84). - RBW
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