Eternal Father, strong to save, Whose arm hath bound the restless waveAuthor: William Whiting (1860)
Songs of Response
Published in 328 hymnals
Printable scores: PDF, SibeliusAudio files: MIDI
1 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.
2 O Savior, 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.
3 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.
4 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.
Baptist Hymnal, 1991
|First Line:||Eternal Father, strong to save, Whose arm hath bound the restless wave|
|Title:||Eternal Father! strong to save|
|Author:||William Whiting (1860)|
|Refrain First Line:||O hear us when we cry to thee|
|Copyright:||This text in in the public domain in the United States because it was published before 1923.|
|Liturgical Use:||Songs of Response|
Eternal Father, strong to save. W. Whiting. [For those at Sea.] Of this hymn the following texts are known :—
1. The original manuscript, 1860, a reprint of which is preserved in Biggs's Annotated Hymns Ancient & Modern, 1867, pp.270-271.
2. The revised text by the Compilers of Hymns Ancient & Modern, 1861, No. 222. This is most widely used of any.
3. A revision by the author made for the Appendix to the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge Psalms and Hymns, 1869, and repeated in Church Hymns, 1871, No. 321.
4. A Latin version also by Whiting, in Biggs's Annotated Hymns Ancient & Modern, 1867, pp. 270-71. This version is of the Hymns Ancient & Modern, revised text of 1861, and not of the original manuscript.
The lack of hymns for those at sea, together with its merits as a hymn, rendered it exceedingly popular from its first publication, and its use has become most extensive in English-speaking countries. Hodges, of Frome, has published a short tale founded thereupon, and entitled "Hymn 222." Original text as above, authorized text, Church Hymns, No. 321.
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)
A large number of additional stanzas have been written over the century and a half since Whiting's text first appeared. Those most frequently found in hymnals are substitutionary second (land) and third (air) stanzas intended to make what is customarily thought of as the "Navy Hymn", and what was originally a hymn for travel mercies on the ocean-going, applicable to travelers by land and air as well; these stanzas were written by Robert Nelson Spencer, and first published in 1937. When the Spencer stanzas are included, the first line and title are frequently altered to "Almighty Father..." and the last line of the fourth stanza to "Glad praise from air and land and sea" (as for example in Hymnal 1940 #513, where Spencer is uncredited). (comment by Haruo)
A webpage of the United States Navy gives the following additional stanzas (and ascriptions):
Lord, guard and guide the men who fly
Through the great spaces in the sky.
Be with them always in the air,
In darkening storms or sunlight fair;
Oh, hear us when we lift our prayer,
For those in peril in the air!
Oh, Watchful Father who dost keep
Eternal vigil while we sleep
Guide those who navigate on high
Who through grave unknown perils fly,
Receive our oft-repeated prayer
For those in peril in the air.
Eternal Father, grant, we pray,
To all Marines, both night and day,
The courage, honor, strength, and skill
Their land to serve, thy law fulfill;
Be thou the shield forevermore
From every peril to the Corps.
Lord, stand beside the men who build,
And give them courage, strength, and skill.
O grant them peace of heart and mind,
And comfort loved ones left behind.
Lord, hear our prayers for all Seabees,
Where'er they be on land or sea.
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 in the deep.
O God, protect the women who,
In service, faith in thee renew;
O guide devoted hands of skill
And bless their work within thy will;
Inspire their lives that they may be
Examples fair on land and sea.
Creator, Father, who dost show
Thy splendor in the ice and snow,
Bless those who toil in summer light
And through the cold antarctic night,
As they thy frozen wonders learn;
Bless those who wait for their return.
Eternal Father, Lord of hosts,
Watch o'er the men who guard our coasts.
Protect them from the raging seas
And give them light and life and peace.
Grant them from thy great throne above
The shield and shelter of thy love.
Eternal Father, King of birth,
Who didst create the heaven and earth,
And bid the planets and the sun
Their own appointed orbits run;
O hear us when we seek thy grace
For those who soar through outer space.
Creator, Father, who first breathed
In us the life that we received,
By power of thy breath restore
The ill, and men with wounds of war.
Bless those who give their healing care,
That life and laughter all may share.
God, Who dost still the restless foam,
Protect the ones we love at home.
Provide that they should always be
By thine own grace both safe and free.
O Father, hear us when we pray
For those we love so far away.
Lord, guard and guide the men who fly
And those who on the ocean ply;
Be with our troops upon the land,
And all who for their country stand:
Be with these guardians day and night
And may their trust be in thy might.
O Father, King of earth and sea,
We dedicate this ship to thee.
In faith we send her on her way;
In faith to thee we humbly pray:
O hear from heaven our sailor's cry
And watch and guard her from on high!
And when at length her course is run,
Her work for home and country done,
Of all the souls that in her sailed
Let not one life in thee have failed;
But hear from heaven our sailor's cry,
And grant eternal life on high!
Bulletin Score (melody only)
William Whiting wrote this hymn in 1860 in England. It was modified in 1861 by the editors of Hymns Ancient and Modern, where it was first published. Whiting also revised it a few times. It has become a favorite of seafaring people in English-speaking countries, both civilian and military. In America, its affiliation as the “Navy Hymn” is prompted in part by the practice dating from 1879 of concluding the Sunday services at the Naval Academy at Annapolis with the first stanza of this hymn. The first three stanzas of this hymn appeal to the Trinity with Scripture passages where each Person controlled the sea, while the final stanza summarizes the hymn and promises continued praise “from land and sea.”
MELITA is named after the island where Paul was shipwrecked (Acts 28:1 KJV; modern Bible translations have “Malta”). It is a fitting name for a tune associated with a text about safety on the seas. MELITA was composed by John B. Dykes especially for this text in 1861, and they were published together in Hymns Ancient and Modern.
This tune is well-known and should pose little problem for congregational singing. However, the rhythm is consistently steady, with no obvious places for breathing, so worship leaders should choose a moderate tempo and indicate the ends of phrases. There is quite a bit of chromaticism throughout, which adds intensity to the mood.
Because of this hymn's association with the navy, it is used for services connected to the armed forces, such as Memorial Day. It is also used for sailors' funerals. Although this familiar tune is not hard to sing, congregation members may be more familiar with hearing instrumental versions, such as are found in “All Nature Sings” for piano with the melody in varying registers, or “Eternal Father, Strong to Save” a piano and organ duet that begins in a quiet, prayerful mood but swells to a majestic climax.
Tiffany Shomsky, Hymnary.org
ChoralMore Choral >
InstrumentalMore Instrumental >
HandbellsMore Handbells >
|Instances (37)||First Line||Text Title||Refrain First Line||Authors||Composers||Meter||Scripture||Tune Title||Tune Key||Incipit||Languages||Publication Date|
|African American Heritage Hymnal #610||Eternal Father, strong to save||Eternal Father, Strong to Save||William Whiting, 1825-1878||John Bacchus Dykes, 1823-1876||126.96.36.199.8.8||Matthew 8:26; Matthew 10:7||MELITA||C Major||English||2001|
|Baptist Hymnal 1991 #69||Eternal Father, strong to save||Eternal Father, Strong to Save||William Whiting||John B. Dykes||188.8.131.52.8.8||Psalm 107:30||MELITA||C Major||1991|
|Baptist Hymnal 2008 #643||Eternal Father, strong to save||Eternal Father, Strong to Save||William Whiting||John B. Dykes||184.108.40.206.8.8||MELITA||C Major||English||2008|
|Celebrating Grace Hymnal #14||Eternal Father, strong to save||Eternal Father, Strong to Save||William Whiting||John B. Dykes||220.127.116.11.8.8||Mark 4:35-41||MELITA||C Major||2010|
|Celebration Hymnal #808||Eternal Father, strong to save||Eternal Father, Strong to Save||Robert Nelson Spencer; William Whiting||John Bacchus Dykes||18.104.22.168.8.8||Psalm 107:30-31||MELITA||C Major||133556655U12D75545||English||1997|
|Chalice Hymnal #85||Eternal Father, strong to save||Eternal Father, Strong to Save||William Whiting||John B. Dykes||22.214.171.124.8.8||MELITA||C Major||1995|
|Christian Worship: a Lutheran hymnal #517||Almighty Father, strong to save||Almighty Father, Strong to Save||William Whiting, 1825-78; Robert N. Spencer, 1877-1961||John B. Dykes, 1823-76||126.96.36.199.8.8||MELITA||C Major||1993|
|Church Family Worship #350||Eternal Father, strong to save||188.8.131.52.8.8||1988|
|Church Hymnal, Fifth Edition #612||Eternal Father, strong to save||2000|
|Church Hymnary (4th ed.) #260b||Eternal Father, strong to save||William Whiting (1825-1878)||John Bacchus Dykes (1823-1876)||184.108.40.206.8.8||Genesis 1:2; Job 38:8-11; John 6:16-21; Luke 8:22-25; Mark 4:35-41; Mark 6:47-52; Matthew 8:23-27; Matthew 14:23-25; Proverbs 8:29; Psalm 33:20; Psalm 89:9; Psalm 107:23-32||MELITA||C Major||2005|
|Church Hymnary (4th ed.) #260a||Eternal Father, strong to save||William Whiting (1825-1878)||John Bacchus Dykes (1823-1876)||220.127.116.11.8.8||Genesis 1:2; Job 38:8-11; John 6:16-21; Luke 8:22-25; Mark 4:35-41; Mark 6:47-52; Matthew 8:23-27; Matthew 14:23-25; Proverbs 8:29; Psalm 33:20; Psalm 89:9; Psalm 107:23-32||MELITA||C Major||2005|
|Common Praise #567||Eternal Father, strong to save||Eternal Father, Strong to Save||William Whiting, 1825-1878||John Bacchus Dykes, 1823-1876||18.104.22.168.8.8||Genesis 1:1 - 2:4; Exodus 14:10-31; Job 38:1-41; Psalm 29; Psalm 107; Matthew 14:22-33; Mark 4:35-41; Mark 6:45-52; Luke 21:25-36; Genesis 1:1 - 2:4; Exodus 14:10-31; Job 38:1-41; Psalm 29; Psalm 107; Matthew 14:22-33; Mark 4:35-41; Mark 6:45-52; Luke 21:25-36||MELITA||C Major||1998|
|Complete Anglican Hymns Old & New #156||Eternal Father, strong to save||Eternal Father, strong to save||2000|
|Complete Mission Praise #122||Eternal Father, strong to save||22.214.171.124.8.8||2000|
|Evangelical Lutheran Worship #756||Eternal Father, strong to save||William Whiting, 1825-1878||John B. Dykes, 1823-1876||126.96.36.199.8.8||MELITA||C Major||English||2006|
|Glory to God: the Presbyterian Hymnal #8||Eternal Father, strong to save||Eternal Father, Strong to Save||William Whiting||John Bacchus Dykes||188.8.131.52.8.8||Genesis 1:1-3; Job 38:8-11; Psalm 57:1; Psalm 89:8-6; Psalm 91:2; Psalm 95:5; Psalm 107:23-32; Matthew 8:23-27; Matthew 14:24-33; Mark 4:36-41; Mark 6:47-52; Luke 8:26-37; John 6:16-21; 2 Peter 2:9||MELITA||C Major||English||2013|
|Hymnal 1982: according to the use of the Episcopal Church #579||Almighty Father, strong to save||William Whiting, 1825-1878; Robert Nelson Spencer, 1877-1961||John Bacchus Dykes, 1823-1876||184.108.40.206.8.8||MELITA||C Major||English||1985|
|Hymnal 1982: according to the use of the Episcopal Church #608||Eternal Father, strong to save||William Whiting, 1825-1878||John Bacchus Dykes, 1823-1876||220.127.116.11.8.8||MELITA||C Major||English||1985|
|Hymns Ancient & Modern, New Standard Edition #292||Eternal Father, strong to save||18.104.22.168.8.8||1983|
|Hymns for Today's Church (2nd ed.) #285||Eternal Father, strong to save||W. Whiting (1825-1878)||J. B. Dykes (1823-1876); Noël Tredinnick (born 1949)||22.214.171.124.8.8||MELITA||C Major||1987|
|Hymns Old and New: New Anglican #114||Eternal Father, strong to save||126.96.36.199.8.8||1996|
|Lead Me, Guide Me (2nd ed.) #539||Eternal Father, strong to save||Eternal Father, Strong to Save||William Whiting, 1825-1878||John Bacchus Dykes, 1823-1876||188.8.131.52.8.8||Genesis 1:2-3; Psalm 107:23-30; Isaiah 43:1-7; Matthew 8:23-27; Matthew 14:24-25; Mark 6:45-51; Luke 8:22-25; John 6:16-21||MELITA||C Major||2012|
|Lutheran Service Book #717||Eternal Father, strong to save||Eternal Father, Strong to Save||Robert N. Spencer, 1877-1961; William Whiting, 1825-78||John B. Dykes, 1823-76||184.108.40.206.8.8||Genesis 1:1-10; Psalm 3; Matthew 8:23-27; Matthew 14:22-33||MELITA||C Major||English||2006|
|Presbyterian Hymnal: hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs #562||Eternal Father, strong to save||Eternal Father, Strong to Save||William Whiting||John Bacchus Dykes||220.127.116.11.8.8||MELITA||C Major||English||1990|
|Rejoice in the Lord #525||Eternal Father, strong to save||Eternal Father, Strong to Save||William Whiting||J. B. Dykes||18.104.22.168.8.8||Matthew 14:23; Luke 8:25; Mark 6:52; Matthew 8:27; John 6:21; Job 38:8-11; Mark 4:41; Matthew 8:26||MELITA||C Major||English||1985|
|Rejoice in the Lord #526||Almighty Father, strong to save||Almighty Father, Strong to Save||William Whiting; Robert Spencer||J. B. Dykes||22.214.171.124.8.8||MELITA||C Major||English||1985|
|Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal #85||Eternal Father, strong to save||MELITA||1985|
|Sing Glory: Hymns, Psalms and Songs for a New Century #235||Eternal Father, strong to save||126.96.36.199.8.8||1999|
|Sing Joyfully #459||Eternal Father, strong to save||Eternal Father, Strong to Save||William Whiting; Robert N. Spencer||John B. Dykes||[Eternal Father, strong to save]||C Major||English||1989|
|The Book of Hymns (A fresh anthology of favourite hymns) #3||Eternal Father, strong to save||2006|
|The Covenant Hymnal: a worshipbook #729||Eternal Father, strong to save||Eternal Father, Strong to Save||William Whiting, 1825-1878||John B. Dykes, 1823-1876||188.8.131.52.8.8||Psalm 107:23-30; Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 6:47-51||MELITA||C Major||1996|
|The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration #575||Eternal Father, strong to save||Eternal Father, Strong to Save||William Whiting; Robert Nelson Spencer||John Bacchus Dykes||184.108.40.206.8.8||MELITA||C Major||1986|
|The Worshiping Church #358||Eternal Father, strong to save||Eternal Father, Strong to Save||William Whiting||John B. Dykes||220.127.116.11.8.8||Genesis 1:2-9; Psalm 9:9; Psalm 107:23-30; Isaiah 43:2||MELITA||C Major||English||1990|
|Together in Song: Australian Hymn Book II #138||Eternal Father, strong to save||18.104.22.168.8.8||1999|
|Trinity Hymnal (Rev. ed.) #630||Eternal Father, strong to save||Eternal Father, Strong to Save||William Whiting||John B. Dykes||22.214.171.124.8.8||Psalm 89:9||MELITA||C Major||English||1990|
|Voices United: The Hymn and Worship Book of The United Church of Canada #659||Eternal Father, strong to save||Eternal Father, Strong to Save||William Whiting||John Bacchus Dykes||126.96.36.199.8.8||MELITA||C Major||1996|
|Worship and Rejoice #74||Eternal Father, strong to save||Eternal Father, Strong to Save||William Whiting, 1825-1878||John B. Dykes, 1823-1876||188.8.131.52.8.8||Psalm 9:9; Matthew 14:22-23; Genesis 1:2-3; Matthew 8:23-27; John 6:15-21; Isaiah 43:1-7; Luke 8:22-25; Psalm 107:23-30; Mark 6:45-51||MELITA||C Major||2001|