~* Eternal Father, Strong to Save *~
William Whiting, 1825-1878

Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them.
Psalm 89:9

A modest English schoolmaster born in 1825 contributed "Almighty" [or "Eternal"] "Father, Strong to Save" to a hymnal in 1860, giving it the caption: "For those at Sea. 'These men see the works of the LORD, and His wonders in the deep.'" Now familiarly known as the "Navy Hymn", William Whiting's poem invokes the protective hand of God "for those in peril on the sea."

In 1937 Robert Nelson Spencer--recognizing that with faith in God, He can protect us anywhere--brought the hymn up to date by adding stanzas that cover modern transportation by land and by air as well.

The hauntingly powerful music for this hymn is another by John Bacchus Dykes, composer of many beautiful melodies including "Art Thou Weary, Art Thou Languid?", "Jesus, The Very Thought of Thee", "The King of Love My Shepherd Is", "Lead, Kindly Light", and one of my personal favorites, "Holy, Holy, Holy".

The hymn is also remembered to have been played and sung during the last Sunday morning service aboard RMS TITANIC, the pride of the Whitestar Line's maiden--and final--voyage in April 1912.

In America, “Eternal Father” is often called the “Navy Hymn,” because it is sung at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. It is also sung on ships of the British Royal Navy and has been translated into several languages. It was the favorite hymn of U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and was sung at his funeral in Hyde Park, New York, April 1945. The Navy Band played it in 1963, as U.S. President John Kennedy’s body was carried up the steps of the U.S. Capitol to lie in state. Roosevelt served as Secretary of the Navy and Kennedy was a PT boat commander in World War II.

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who biddest 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 walked upon 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 family shield in danger’s hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect us wheresoe'er we go;
Thus evermore shall rise to Thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.

Alternate verses:

Lord, guard and guide the men who fly
Through the great spaces in the sky.
Be with them always in the air,
In dark'ning 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)

Eternal Father, Lord of hosts,
Watch over 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.
Author unknown

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)

*For Today*: Psalm 8, 36:6, 46:2, 65:5, 69:34, 93:4, 107:23-25

Wherever we go, whatever we do, God is watching! This strikes fear in the heart of the unforgiven; but to we the redeemed by His grace, it brings eternal comfort and sweet peace.


Some history taken from Reader's Digest--Family Songbook of Faith and Joy © Copyright 1975 The Reader's Digest Association, Inc. All rights reserved.

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