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“Eternal Father, Strong to Save” has held special meaning for me ever since I first heard it at President John F. Kennedy’s funeral on November 25, 1963.  I was a teenager then, watching on TV.  Hearing the Naval Academy Choir sing this hymn as the funeral cortege arrived at the White House and then hearing it played again by the Marine Band at Arlington National Cemetery was incredibly moving and reassuring.  Though I know now that it was written in 19th C. England, inspired by a description in Psalm 107 of God calming a dangerous sea storm, I always picture the grief of our nation after President Kennedy’s assassination when I hear it and draw strength for facing the many and varied storms of life.

Eternal Father, strong to save,
whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
who bidd’st 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 Christ, whose voice the waters heard
and hushed their raging at thy word,
who walkedst on the foaming deep,
and calm amid its rage didst sleep:
O hear us when we cry to thee
for those in peril on the sea.
O Trinity of love and power,
thy children shield in danger’s hour;
from rock and tempest, fire and foe,
protect them wheresoe’er they go;
thus evermore shall rise to thee
glad hymns of praise from land and sea.

William Whiting (1825-1878), alt. This selection is in the public domain.