Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day 2009 Our Tribute: The Story of the Navy Hymn

"Eternal Father, Strong to Save": The Navy Hymn

The song known to United States Navy men and women as the "Navy Hymn," is a musical benediction that long has had a special appeal to seafaring men, particularly in the American Navy and the Royal Navies of the British Commonwealth and which, in more recent years, has become a part of French naval tradition.

The original words were written as a hymn by a schoolmaster and clergyman of the Church of England, the Rev. William Whiting. Rev. Whiting (1825-1878) resided on the English coast near the sea and had once survived a furious storm in the Mediterranean. His experiences inspired him to pen the ode, "Eternal Father, Strong to Save." In the following year, 1861, the words were adapted to music by another English clergyman, the Rev. John B. Dykes (1823-1876) , who had originally written the music as "Melita" (ancient name for the Mediterranean island of Malta). Rev. Dykes' name may be recognized as that of the composer given credit for the music to many other well-known hymns, including "Holy, Holy, Holy," "Lead, Kindly Light," "Jesus, Lover of My Soul," and "Nearer, My God to Thee."

In the United States, in 1879 the late Rear Adm. Charles Jackson Train, an 1865 graduate of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis was a lieutenant commander stationed at the Academy in charge of the Midshipman Choir. In that year, Lt. Comdr. Train inaugurated the present practice of concluding each Sunday's Divine Services at the Academy with the singing of the first verse of this hymn.

The hymn, entitled "Eternal Father, Strong to Save," is found in most Protestant Hymnals. It can be more easily located in these hymnals by consulting the "Index to First Lines" under "Eternal Father, Strong to Save." The words have been changed several times since the original hymn by Rev. Whiting was first published in 1860-61. One will find that the verses as now published differ from the original primarily in the choice of one or two words in several lines of each verse. However, inasmuch as it is not known whether the original words are now available in a hymnal, those original words are given below:

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.

This last stanza was written much more recently and covers all branches of the 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 they might.
-- author unknown, about 1955

We used this hymn as a tribute to our veterans during our Worship Service at Laurel Baptist Church May 24, 2009.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Magnificent Concert in Simpsonville

The SC Singing Churchmen were in the upstate last night on the next to last leg of their 50th Anniversary 2008-2009 touring season. Performing and giving God praise at First Baptist Simpsonville, these Ministers of Music from churches all though the SC Baptist convention proved themselves to be among South Carolina's finest musicians. As well as performing as a complete choral unit, they broke into smaller ensembles : A Cappella Ensemble, Southern Gospel Ensemble, Praise Team, and Handbell Ensemble. In addition to singing, a small group of the men also served as the group's orchestra that accompanied the group, supporting the pianist and organist. Their sound was extremely good. There is just something about a men's singing group that makes you want to sit and absorb the wonderful sound. I have sung Tom Fettke's The Majesty and Glory of Your Name so many times that I had thought I would be indifferent to its performance. I was happily very mistaken! The Singing Churchmen made this truly MAJESTIC. The A Cappella numbers were done with the choir standing around the audience on the steps leading to the balcony. The sound came from above and around us. Truly, this be be what Heaven's sound will be like. The Southern Gospel Ensemble, while admittedly singing to a crowd biased in their favor, had the congregation standing and clapping along. The four men singing as The A Capella Ensemble also held the listeners spellbound with their rendition of Up Above My Head. The offertory was presented by the Praise Team joined by Handbells, an unlikely combination in most churches, presenting the contemporary praise chorus Come, Now is the Time to Worship. I'm sure those Ministers of Music like myself, who were sitting in the audience, wished we could have a group like that in our own churches. In summary, only the word AWESOME can do justice to the Praise Concert last evening. Thank you First Baptist Simpsonville for sponsoring this event, and thank you, gentlemen, the SC Singing Churchmen for a job well done and being a group for which we can truly have Palmetto Pride.

This group's final performance for this season will be June 19th when they take part in the Baptist Church Music Conference in Nashville, TN.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Blessing through Tithing

It pains me badly to admit we haven't tithed as faithfully as we should have. We let our wants and needs come before the most important thing, giving back to God. Although our circumstances hadn't really changed, Bren and I began a new emphasis for ourselves on doing what God wants at the first of this year. We started taking exactly 10% of whatever came in and giving it back to God. We haven't really missed it, and it has become quite a kick to see how God keeps blessing the gift. We started in January by giving $25 weekly, which seemed as much as we could do. Then we went to $35, or exactly 10% of my unemployment check. Recently I was able to work at a Funeral Home assisting during a service. That added $5 to the amount we gave. Next Laurel Baptist asked me to help with some interim music work. That has added an additional $15 per week. This week, In addition to the unemployment and the check from Laurel, Bren and I both received paychecks from the AARP Foundation Grant. We were able to give over $100 this week. ISN'T GOD GOOD?!?!?! We're not bragging here, far from it. If only we had keep this up went we first went to work. We feel SO good about giving back that we can't wait to see what God will let us give next. God owns this economy, and can turn it around when ever he wants. All we have to do is follow His guidelines. See you in church this weekend!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sunday at Laurel Baptist was a great time of worship.

We had a really good worship service yesterday at Laurel Baptist where I am currently filling in as Minister of Music. We had some musical guests, curtesy of our pianist, who is a music teacher in the Spartanburg District 5 School System. She brought one of her boy sopranos, HS. He was accompanied by his mother on dulcimer, his father on sax, and DG, our pianist.