"" Writer's Wanderings: Sunday Worship Thoughts - Titanic's Last Hymn

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday Worship Thoughts - Titanic's Last Hymn

Early on the morning of the 15th of April, 1912, the Titanic put her nose into the icy waters of the north Atlantic and slid beneath the waters. The musicians on board the ship are credited with trying to keep passengers and crew calm by playing music up to the very end. Controversy arises however over what the last hymn was that they played.

Most passengers reported hearing Nearer My God To Thee, a hymn which has several melodies that accompany it depending upon your country of origin. Here are the lyrics:

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee.

Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer to Thee!

Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down,
Darkness be over me, my rest a stone.
Yet in my dreams I’d be nearer, my God to Thee.


There let the way appear, steps unto Heav’n;
All that Thou sendest me, in mercy given;
Angels to beckon me nearer, my God, to Thee.


Then, with my waking thoughts bright with Thy praise,
Out of my stony griefs Bethel I’ll raise;
So by my woes to be nearer, my God, to Thee.


Or, if on joyful wing cleaving the sky,
Sun, moon, and stars forgot, upward I’ll fly,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee.


There in my Father’s home, safe and at rest,
There in my Savior’s love, perfectly blest;
Age after age to be, nearer my God to Thee.


Several others, some of them quite credible, claim that the last hymn the musicians played was actually an Episcopal hymn called Autumn. This was the hymn one of the last survivors to escape the ship, Harold Bride, the Titanic's junior wireless operator, reported hearing.

Autumn's lyrics are:

God of mercy and compassion!
Look with pity on my pain:
Hear a mournful, broken spirit
Prostrate at Thy feet complain;
Many are my foes, and mighty;
Strength to conquer I have none;
Nothing can uphold my goings
But Thy blessed Self alone.

Saviour, look on Thy beloved;
Triumph over all my foes;
Turn to heavenly joy my mourning,
Turn to gladness all my woes;
Live or die, or work or suffer,
Let my weary soul abide,
In all changes whatsoever
Sure and steadfast by Thy side.

When temptations fierce assault me,
When my enemies I find,
Sin and guilt, and death and Satan,
All against my soul combined,
Hold me up in mighty waters,
Keep my eyes on things above,
Righteousness, divine Atonement,
Peace, and everlasting Love.

Controversy aside, the musicians that played on sacrificed their chance of survival to try to provide a spiritual calm. In those last moments, they pointed the way to a Savior, a God who would receive those who knew Him that cold dark morning.

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