Eternal Father, Strong to Save,

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The Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral yesterday was simple, dignified and impressive. His favourite hymn deserves musing.

O hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea.

Written by Anglican churchman, teacher and musician William Whiting in 1860 it‘s often known as ‘The Sailor’s Hymn’. Based on Psalm 107 it talks about the God of the sea…

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bid’st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;

The Eternal Father, the Creator God, made the sea, forming the deep oceans and the restless waves. Many ancient pictures present the sea as stormy, angry and dangerous. This God has everything under his control.

O Christ, whose voice the waters heard
and hushed their raging at Thy word,
who walkedst on the foaming deep,
and calm amidst its rage didst sleep;

Jesus, the Christ, comes as the man who engages with and controls the sea. He walks on the waves, sleeps through the storm and brings calm when he commands, ‘Peace. Be still’.

O Holy Spirit, who didst brood
upon the chaos dark and rude,
and bid its angry tumult cease,
and give, for wild confusion, peace;

The Spirit of God, present in before the world’s creation, is present today, bringing order to chaos, calm to storms, peace to confusion.

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;

Those who are Christian and know some theology will be pleased that this hymn addresses the trinity, the three parts of the God who brings his love, power and protection

This God of the Psalmist and William Whiting was central to The Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral yesterday. He will ‘hear us when we cry to thee…’

Thus evermore shall rise to Thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.

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