Eternal Father, Strong to Save

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the rest-less wave…

“Eternal Father,”  alternately titled “The Navy Hymn,” was written by two Englishmen, Rev. William Whiting (lyrics) and Rev. John B. Dykes (music) between 1860 and 1861,   drawing  inspiration from both the Old and New Testaments.

its verses reference familiar texts such as   Psalm 65, (“who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations”).

There are  alternate verses to this hymn. One, for example, written  in 1965 , is dedicated to naval 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 on the deep.

Another  version  appears in Noye’s Fludde, a one-act opera for amateur performers by Benjamin Britten.  It features  “the grinding conflict of Britten’s passacaglia   theme against   Dykes’s familiar hymn-tune in the storm” …

Hear it here. 


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