Eternal Father Strong to Save (The Navy Hymn)

This hymn of petition for safety at sea was written by English choral master and poet, William Whiting (1825-1878). It was was inspired by the dangers of the sea described in Psalm 107, and based on a poet which Whiting wrote to encourage a pupil who was about to undertake a long sea-journey (ref).

The hymn was popularised by the English Royal Navy and the United States Navy in the late 19th century, Variations of it were used by branches of the armed services in both the United Kingdom and the United States.  It is now known to some people as "The Navy Hymn", and alternative titles include Hymn of Her Majesty's Armed Forces, the Royal Navy Hymn, the United States Navy Hymn, and For Those in Peril on the Sea.

As well as the military use, the hymn is used in many civilian maritime settings by ship's chaplains and sung during religious services held during on sea journeys.

With meter 8.8.8.8.8.8,  tunes it has been set to include:
  • MELITA (Dykes), composed by English organist and choir-director John Bacchus Dykes and first published in Hymns An­cient and Mo­dern in 1861 - this was the origin tune for the hymn, and remains the most-common one.
  • REST (Stainer) by  John Stainer (1873) 
  • SURREY by Henry Carey (c1685 - 1743)
  • CREATION (Haydn) by Joseph Haydn (1797)
  • ATTWOOD by Thomas Attwood (1831)
  • ALL EHR UND LOB, composer unknown, published in Kirchengesangbuch, Strassburg, 1541

Downloads

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Examples

Congregation with piano, on-screen lyrics:



Massed choir with organ:



Large choir with orchestra:



Amateur choir, with piano:



Singer, self-accompanied on guitar:



Singer with band:


Lyrics

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm does bind the restless wave,
Who bids 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 Saviour, whose almighty word
The winds and waves submissive heard,
Who walked upon the foaming deep,
And calm amid the rage did sleep;
O hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea.

O Holy Spirit, who did brood
Upon the waters dark and rude,
And bid their angry tumult cease,
And give for wild confusion peace;
O hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea.

O Trinity of love and pow'r,
Your children shield in danger's hour;
From rock and tempest, fire, and foe,
Protect them where-so-e'er they go;
Thus, evermore shall rise to Thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.


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