They that go down to the sea in ships,
Montgomery has made this metrical rendering of these verses:
They that toil upon the deep,
Mark what wonders God performs
The hymn is not in the collections, and has no tune. Addison paraphrased the succeeding verses of the Psalm in his hymn, "How are thy servants blessed O Lord," sung to Hugh Wilson's tune of "Avon":
When by the dreadful tempest borne
The storm is laid, the winds retire,
[Footnote 35: Hugh Wilson was a Scotch weaver of Kilmarnock, born 1764; died 1824.]
"FIERCE WAS THE WILD BILLOW."
([Greek: Zopheras trikumias])
The ancient writer, Anatolius, who composed this hymn has for centuries been confounded with "St" Anatolius, patriarch of Constantinople, who died A.D.458. The author of the hymn lived in the seventh century, and except that he wrote several hymns, and also poems in praise of the martyrs, nothing or next to nothing, is known of him. The "Wild Billow" song was the principle seaman's hymn of the early church. It is being introduced into modern psalmody, the translation in use ranking among the most successful of Dr. John Mason Neale's renderings from the Greek.
Fierce was the wild billow,
Ridge of the mountain wave,
The desire to represent the antiquity of the hymn and the musical style of Its age, and on the other hand the wish to utilize it in the tune-manuals for Manners' Homes and Seamen's Bethels, makes a difficulty for composers to study -- and the task is still open to competition. Considering the peculiar tone that sailors' singing instinctively takes -- and has taken doubtless from time immemorial perhaps the plaintive melody of "Neale," by J.H. Cornell, comes as near to a vocal success as could be hoped. The music is of middle register and less than octave range, natural scale, minor, and the triple time lightens a little the dirge-like harmony while the weird sea-song effect is kept. A chorus of singing tars must create uncommon emotion, chanting this coronach of the storm.
John Henry Cornell was born in New York city, May 8, 1838, and was for many years organist at St. Paul's Chapel, Trinity Church. He is the author of numerous educational works on the theory and practice of music. He composed the above tune in 1872. Died March 1, 1894.
"AVE, MARIS STELLA."
One of the titles which the Roman Catholic world applied to the Mother of Jesus, in the Middle Ages, was "Stella Maris," "Star of the Sea." Columbus, being a Catholic, sang this hymn, or caused it to be sung, every evening, it is said, during his perilous voyage to an unknown land. The marine epithet by which the Virgin Mary is addressed is admirable as a stroke of poetry, and the hymn -- of six stanzas -- is a prayer which, though offered to her as to a divine being, was no doubt sincere in the simple sailor hearts of 1492.
The two following quatrains finish the voyagers' petition, and point it with a doxology --
Vitam praesta puram,
Sit laus Deo Patri,
A free translation is --
Guide us safe, unspotted
Praise to God the Father,
Inasmuch as this ancient hymn did not attain the height of its popularity and appear in all the breviaries until the 10th century, its assumed age has been doubted, but its reputed author, Venantius Fortunatus, Bishop of Poitiers, was born about 531, at Treviso, Italy, and died about 609. Though a religious teacher, he was a man of romantic and convivial instincts -- a strange compound of priest, poet and beau chevalier. Duffield calls him "the last of the classics and first of the troubadours," and states that he was the "first of the Christian poets to begin that worship of the Virgin Mary which rose to a passion and sank to an idolatry."
To this ancient rogation poem have been composed by Aiblinger (Johann Caspar), Bavarian, (1779-1867,) by Proch (Heinrich), Austrian, (1809-1878,) by Tadolini (Giovanni), Italian, (1803-1872,) and by many others. The "Ave, Maris Stella" is in constant use in the Romish church, and its English translation by Caswall is a favorite hymn in the Lyra Catholica.
This beautiful hymn is not introduced here in order of time, but because it seems akin to the foregoing, and born of its faith and traditions -- though it sounds rather too fine for a sailor song, on ship or shore. Like the other, the tuneful prayer is the voice of ultramontane piety accustomed to deify Mary, and is entitled the "Evening Song to the Virgin."
Ave Sanctissima! we lift our souls to Thee
Thou that hast looked on death,
This was first written in four separate quatrains, "'Tis nightfall on the sea" being part of the first instead of the second line, and "We lift our souls," etc., was "Our souls rise to Thee," while the apostrophe at the end read, "Thou Star of the Deep."
The fact of the modern origin of the hymn does not make it less probable that the earlier one of Fortunatus suggested it. It was written by Mrs. Hemans, and occurs between the forty-third and forty-fourth stanzas of her long poem, "The Forest Sanctuary."
A Spanish Christian who had embraced the Protestant faith fled to America (such is the story of the poem) to escape the cruelties of the Inquisition, and took with him his Catholic wife and his child. During the voyage the wife pined away and died, a martyr to her conjugal loyalty and love. The hymn to the Virgin purports to have been her daily evening song at sea, plaintively remembered by the broken-hearted husband and father in his forest retreat on the American shore with his motherless boy.
The music was composed by a sister of Mrs. Hemans, Mrs. Hughes, who probably arranged the lines as they now stand in the tune.
The song, though its words appear in the Parochial Hymn-book, seems to be in use rather as parlor music than as a part of the liturgy.
"JESUS, LOVER OF MY SOUL."
The golden quality of this best-known and loved of Charles Wesley's hymns is attested by two indorsements that cannot be impeached; its perennial life, and the blessings of millions who needed it.
Jesus, Lover of my soul
Hide me, O my Saviour, hide,
Wesley is believed to have written it when a young man, and story and legend have been busy with the circumstances of its birth. The most poetical account alleges that a dove chased by a hawk dashed through his open window into his bosom, and the inspiration to write the line --
Let me to Thy bosom fly,
-- was the genesis of the poem. Another report has it that one day Mr. Wesley, being pursued by infuriated persecutors at Killalee, County Down, Ireland, took refuge in a milk-house on the homestead of the Island Band Farm. When the mob came up the farmer's wife, Mrs. Jane Lowrie Moore, offered them refreshments and secretly let out the fugitive through a window to the back garden, where he concealed himself under a hedge till his enemies went away. When they had gone he had the hymn in his mind and partly jotted down. This tale is circumstantial, and came through Mrs. Mary E. Hoover, Jane Moore's granddaughter, who told it many years ago to her pastor, Dr. William Laurie of Bellefonte, Pa. So careful a narrative deserves all the respect due to a family tradition. Whether this or still another theory of the incidental cause of the wonderful hymn shall have the last word may never be decided nor is it important.
There is "antecedent probability," at least, in the statement that Wesley wrote the first two stanzas soon after his perilous experience in a storm at sea during his return voyage from America to England in 1736. In a letter dated Oct.28 of that year, he describes the storm that washed away a large part of the ship's cargo, strained her seams so that the hardest pumping could not keep pace with the inrushing water, and finally forced the captain to cut the mizzen-mast away. Young Wesley was ill and sorely alarmed, but knew, he says, that he "abode under the shadow of the Almighty," and finally, "in this dreadful moment," he was able to encourage his fellow-passengers who were "in an agony of fear," and to pray with and for them.
It was his awful hazard and bare escape in that tempest that prompted the following stanzas --
O Thou who didst prepare
* * * * *
Borne on the dark'ning wave,
And naturally the memory of his almost shipwreck on the wild Atlantic colored more or less the visions of his muse, and influenced the metaphors of his verse for years.
The popularity of "Jesus, Lover of my Soul" not only procured it, at home, the name of "England's song of the sea," but carried it with "the course of Empire" to the West, where it has reigned with "Rock of Ages," for more than a hundred and fifty years, joint primate of inspired human songs.
Compiled incidents of its heavenly service would fill a chapter. A venerable minister tells of the supernal comfort that lightened his after years of sorrow from the dying bed of his wife who whispered with her last breath, "Hide me, O my Saviour, hide."
A childless and widowed father in Washington remembers with a more than earthly peace, the wife and mother's last request for Wesley's hymn, and her departure to the sound of its music to join the spirit of her babe.
A summer visitor in Philadelphia, waiting on a hot street-corner for a car to Fairmount Park, overheard a quavering voice singing the same hymn and saw an emaciated hand caressing a little plant in an open window -- and carried away the picture of a fading life, and the words --
Other refuge have I none,
On one of the fields of the Civil War, just after a bloody battle, the Rev. James Rankin of the United Presbyterian Church bent over a dying soldier. Asked if he had any special request to make, the brave fellow replied, "Yes, sing 'Jesus, Lover of my Soul.'"
The clergyman belonged to a church that sang only Psalms. But what a tribute to that ubiquitous hymn that such a man knew it by heart! A moment's hesitation and he recalled the words, and, for the first time in his life, sang a sacred song that was not a Psalm. When he reached the lines, --
Safe into the haven guide,
-- his hand was in the frozen grip of a dead man, whose face wore "the light that never was on sea or land." The minister went away saying to himself, "If this hymn is good to die by, it is good to live by."
Of all the tone-masters who have studied and felt this matchless hymn, and given it vocal wings -- Marsh, Zundel, Bradbury, Dykes, Mason -- none has so exquisitely uttered its melting prayer, syllable by syllable, as Joseph P. Holbrook in his "Refuge." Unfortunately for congregational use, it is a duo and quartet score for select voices; but the four-voice portion can be a chorus, and is often so sung. Its form excludes it from some hymnals or places it as an optional beside a congregational tune. But when rendered by the choir on special occasions its success in conveying the feeling and soul of the words is complete. There is a prayer in the swell of every semitone and the touch of every accidental, and the sweet concord of the duet -- soprano with tenor or bass -- pleads on to the end of the fourth line, where the full harmony reinforces it like an organ with every stop in play. The tune is a rill of melody ending in a river of song.
[Footnote 36: Holbrook has also an arrangement of Franz Abt's, "When the Swallows Homeward Fly" written to "Jesus, Lover of my Soul," but with Wesley's words it is far less effective than his original work. "Refuge" is not a manufacture but an inspiration.]
For general congregational use, Mason's "Whitman" has wedded itself to the hymn perhaps closer than any other. It has revival associations reaching back more than sixty years.
"WHEN MARSHALLED ON THE NIGHTLY PLAIN."
Perhaps no line in all familiar hymnology more readily suggests the name of its author than this. In the galaxy of poets Henry Kirke White was a brief luminary whose brilliancy and whose early end have appealed to the hearts of three generations. He was born at Nottingham, Eng., in the year 1795. His father was a butcher, but the son, disliking the trade, was apprenticed to a weaver at the age of fourteen. Two years later he entered an attorney's office as copyist and student.
The boy imbibed sceptical notions from some source, and might have continued to scoff at religion to the last but for the experience of his intimate friend, a youth named Almond, whose life was changed by witnessing one day the happy death of a Christian believer. Decided to be a Christian himself, it was some time before he mustered courage to face White's ridicule and resentment. He simply drew away from him. When White demanded the reason he was obliged to tell him that they two must henceforth walk different paths.
"Good God!" exclaimed White, "you surely think worse of me than I deserve!"
The separation was a severe shock to Henry, and the real grief of it sobered his anger to reflection and remorse. The light of a better life came to him when his heart melted -- and from that time he and Almond were fellows in faith as well as friendship.
In his hymn the young poet tells the stormy experience of his soul, and the vision that guided him to peace.
When, marshalled on the nightly plain,
Once on the raging seas I rode:
It was my guide, my light, my all,
Besides this delightful hymn, with its graphic sea-faring metaphors, two others, at least, of the same boy-poet hold their place in many of the church and chapel collections:
The Lord our God is clothed with might,
Oft in danger, oft in woe,
Henry Kirke White died in the autumn of 1806, when he was scarcely twenty years old. His "Ode to Disappointment," and the miscellaneous flowers and fragments of his genius, make up a touching volume. The fire of a pure, strong spirit burning through a consumptive frame is in them all.
"When, marshalled on the mighty plain" has a choral set to it in the Methodist Hymnal -- credited to Thos. Harris, and entitled "Crimea" -- which divides the three stanzas into six, and breaks the continuity of the hymn. Better sing it in its original form -- long metre double -- to the dear old melody of "Bonny Doon." The voices of Scotland, England and America are blended in it.
[Illustration: William B. Bradbury]
The origin of this Caledonian air, though sometimes fancifully traced to an Irish harper and sometimes to a wandering piper of the Isle of Man, is probably lost in antiquity. Burns, however, whose name is linked with it, tells this whimsical story of it, though giving no date save "a good many years ago," -- (apparently about 1753). A virtuoso, Mr. James Millar, he writes, wishing he were able to compose a Scottish tune, was told by a musical friend to sit down to his harpsichord and make a rhythm of some kind solely on the black keys, and he would surely turn out a Scotch tune. The musical friend, pleased at the result of his jest, caught the string of plaintive sounds made by Millar, and fashioned it into "Bonny Doon."
The burden of this hymn was suggested by the dying words of John Adams, one of the crew of the English ship Bounty who in 1789 mutinied, set the captain and officers adrift, and ran the vessel to a tropical island, where they burned her. In a few years vice and violence had decimated the wicked crew, who had exempted themselves from all divine and human restraint, until the last man alive was left with only native women and half-breed children for company. His true name was Alexander Smith, but he had changed it to John Adams.
The situation forced the lonely Englishman to a sense of solemn responsibility, and in bitter remorse, he sought to retrieve his wasted life, and spend the rest of his exile in repentance and repentant works. He found a Bible in one of the dead seamen's chests, studied it, and organized a community on the Christian plan. A new generation grew up around him, reverencing him as governor, teacher, preacher and judge, and speaking his language -- and he was wise enough to exercise his authority for the common good, and never abuse it. Pitcairn's Island became "the Paradise of the Pacific." It has not yet belied its name. Besides its opulence of rural beauty and natural products, its inhabitants, now the third generation from the "mutineer missionary," are a civilized community without the vices of civilization. There is no licentiousness, no profanity, no Sabbath-breaking, no rum or tobacco -- and no sickness.
John Adams died in 1829 -- after an island residence of forty years. In his extreme age, while he lay waiting for the end, he was asked how he felt in view of the final voyage.
"Land ahead!" murmured the old sailor -- and his last words were, "Rounding the Cape -- into the harbor."
That the veteran's death-song should be perpetuated in sacred music is not strange.
Land ahead! its fruits are waving
Onward, bark! the cape I'm rounding;
The authorship of the hymn is credited to Rev. E. Adams -- whether or not a descendent of the Island Patriarch we have no information. It was written about 1869.
The ringing melody that bears the words was composed by John Miller Evans, born Nov.30, 1825; died Jan.1, 1892. The original air -- with a simple accompaniment -- was harmonized by Hubert P. Main, and published in Winnowed Hymns in 1873.
"ETERNAL FATHER, STRONG TO SAVE."
This is sung almost universally on English ships. It is said to have been one of Sir Evelyn Wood's favorites. The late William Whiting wrote it in 1860, and it was incorporated with some alterations in the standard English Church collection entitled Hymns Ancient and Modern. It is a translation from a Latin hymn, a triune litany addressing a stanza each to Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The whole four stanzas have the same refrain, and the appeal to the Father, who bids --
-- the mighty ocean deep
-- varies in the appeal to Christ, who --
-- walked upon the foaming deep.
The third and fourth stanzas are the following:
O Holy Spirit, Who didst brood
O Trinity of love and power,
William Whiting was born at Kensington, London, Nov.1, 1825. He was Master of Winchester College Chorister's School Died in 1878.
The choral named "Melita" (in memory of St. Paul's shipwreck) was composed by Dr. Dykes in 1861, and its strong and easy chords and moderate note range are nobly suited to the devout hymn.
"THE OCEAN HATH NO DANGER."
This charming sailors' lyric is the work of the Rev. Godfrey Thring. Its probable date is 1862, and it appeared in Morell and Howe's collection and in Hymns Congregational and Others, published in 1866, which contained a number from his pen. Rector Thring was born at Alford, Somersetshire, Eng., March 25, 1823, and educated at Shrewsbury School and Baliol College, Oxford. In 1858 he succeeded his father as Rector of Alford.
He compiled A Church of England Hymnbook in 1880.
The ocean hath no danger
* * * * *
Though life itself be waning
The tune "Morlaix," given to the hymn by Dr. Dykes, is simple, but a very sweet and appropriate harmony.
"FIERCE RAGED THE TEMPEST ON THE DEEP."
This fine lyric, based on the incident in the storm on the Sea of Galilee, is the work of the same writer and owes its tune "St. Aelred" to the same composer.
The melody has an impressive rallentando of dotted semibreves to the refrain, "Peace, be still," after the more rapid notes of the three-line stanzas.
The wild winds hushed, the angry deep
* * * * *
So when our life is clouded o'er
"PULL FOR THE SHORE."
When a shipwrecked crew off a rocky coast were hurrying to the long-boat, a sailor begged leave to run back to the ship's forecastle and save some of his belongings.
"No sir," shouted the Captain, "she's sinking! There's nothing to do but to pull for the shore." Philip P. Bliss caught up the words, and wrought them into a hymn and tune.
Light in the darkness, sailor, day is at hand!
The hymn-tune is a buoyant allegro -- solo and chorus -- full of hope and courage, and both imagery and harmony appeal to the hearts of seamen. It is popular, and has long been one of the song numbers in demand at religious services both on sea and land.
"JESUS, SAVIOUR, PILOT ME."
The Rev. Edward Hopper, D.D. wrote this hymn while pastor of Mariner's Church at New York harbor, "The Church of the Sea and Land." He was born in 1818, and graduated at Union Theological Seminary in 1843.
Jesus, Saviour, pilot me
Only three stanzas of this rather lengthy hymn are in common use.
Without title except "Savior, pilot me." A simple and pleasing melody composed by John Edgar Gould, late of the firm of Gould and Fischer, piano dealers, Phila., Pa. He was born in Bangor, Me., April 9, 1822. Conductor of music and composer of psalm and hymn tunes and glees, he also compiled and published no less than eight books of church, Sunday-school, and secular songs. Died in Algiers, Africa, Feb.13, 1875.
"THROW OUT THE LIFE-LINE."
This is one of the popular refrains that need but a single hearing to fix themselves in common memory and insure their own currency and eclat.
The Rev. E.S. Ufford, well-known as a Baptist preacher, lecturer, and evangelist, was witnessing a drill at the life-saving station on Point Allerton, Nantasket Beach, when the order to "throw out the life-line" and the sight of the apparatus in action, combined with the story of a shipwreck on the spot, left an echo in his mind till it took the form of a song-sermon. Returning home, he pencilled the words of this rousing hymn, and, being himself a singer and player, sat down to his instrument to match the lines with a suitable air. It came to him almost as spontaneously as the music of "The Ninety and Nine" came to Mr. Sankey. In fifteen minutes the hymn-tune was made -- so far as the melody went. It was published in sheet form in 1888, and afterwards purchased by Mr. Sankey, harmonized by Mr. Stebbins, and published in Winnowed Songs, 1890. Included in Gospel Hymns, Nov.6, 1891.
Ever since it has been a favorite with singing seamen, and has done active service as one of our most stirring field-songs in revival work.
Throw out the Life-line across the dark wave,
Throw out the Life-line with hand quick and strong! Why do you tarry, why linger so long?
One evening, in the midst of their hilarity at their card-tables, a convivial club in one of the large Pennsylvania cities heard a sweet, clear female voice singing this solo hymn, followed by a chime of mingled voices in the chorus. A room in the building had been hired for religious meetings, and tonight was the first of the series. A strange coolness dampened the merriment in the club-room, as the singing went on, and the gradual silence became a hush, till finally one member threw down his cards and declared, "If what they're saying is right, then we're wrong."
Others followed his example, then another, and another.
There is a brother whom some one should save.
Quietly the revellers left their cards, cigars and half-emptied glasses and went home.
Said the ex-member who told the story years after to Mr. Ufford, "'Throw Out the Life-line' broke up that club."
He is today one of the responsible editors of a great city daily -- and his old club-mates are all holding positions of trust.
A Christian man, a prosperous manufacturer in a city of Eastern Massachusetts, dates his first religious impressions from hearing this hymn when sung in public for the first time, twenty years ago.
Visiting California recently, Mr. Ufford sang his hymn at a watch-meeting and told the story of the loss of the Elsie Smith on Cape Cod in 1902, exhibiting also the very life-line that had saved sixteen lives from the wreck. By chance one of those sixteen was in the audience.
An English clergyman who was on duty at Gibraltar when an emigrant ship went on the rocks in a storm, tells with what pathetic power and effect "Throw out the Life-line" was sung at a special Sunday service for the survivors.
At one of Evan Roberts' meetings in Laughor, Wales, one speaker related the story of a "vision," when in his room alone, and a Voice that bade him pray, and when he knelt but could not pray, commanded him to "Throw out the Life-line." He had scarcely uttered these words in his story when the whole great congregation sprang to its feet and shouted the hymn together like the sound of many waters.
"There is more electricity in that song than in any other I ever heard," Dr. Cuyler said to Mr. Sankey when he heard him sing it. Its electricity has carried it nearly round the world.
The Rev. Edward Smith Ufford was born in Newark, N.J., 1851, and educated at Stratford Academy (Ct.) and Bates Theological Seminary, Me. He held several pastorates in Maine and Massachusetts, but a preference for evangelistic work led him to employ his talent for object-teaching in illustrated religious lectures through his own and foreign lands, singing his hymn and enforcing it with realistic representation. He is the author and compiler of several Sunday-school and chapel song-manuals, as Converts' Praise, Life-long Songs, Wonderful Love and Gathered Gems.