Eternal Father Strong to Save (Naval hymn) for Recorder Quartet-Quintet

John Bacchus Dykes
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An arrangement for Recorder Consort of this popular hymn, and a suitable hymn for Naval funerals, and funerals of fishermen.

This hymn was among those sung at a religious service aboard HMS Prince of Wales attended by Winston Churchill (who requested that the hymn be sung) and Franklin D. Roosevelt at the conference creating the Atlantic Charter.

Use in funerals

This hymn has been played or sung at a number of funerals for those who have served in the US Navy. It was sung at the funeral of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, played by the Navy Band at the funeral of John F. Kennedy, sung at the funeral of Richard Nixon, and played by the Navy Band and the Coast Guard Band during the funeral of Ronald Reagan. Roosevelt had served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy and Kennedy was commanding officer of PT-109 in World War II.The hymn was also played to close the funeral of R. Buckminster Fuller, as well as at the Memorial Ceremony in Norfolk, VA for the USS Cole (DDG-67) after the bombing of the ship in October 2000. It was performed by the U.S. Navy Sea Chanters at the State Funeral of President Gerald R. Ford, who had served in the Navy during World War II in the Pacific Theater.

This hymn has been played or sung in a number of films and television programs dealing with the US Navy, including Crimson Tide and JAG. It has also been used in The Right Stuff (for Naval Aviation) and in The Perfect Storm (for civilians). In the show 24, the song was played as President David Palmer’s casket was loaded onto an airplane bound for Arlington National Cemetery. Tennessee Ernie Ford performed the hymn on a special episode of his television program filmed on a U.S. Naval carrier to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of U.S. naval aviation.

It was sung at the end of every episode of Navy Log by the US Naval Academy Choir.

In Making Waves, it was sung by the crew of the Royal Navy ship HMS Suffolk at the Funeral of Andy Fellows.

The third verse of the hymn was used briefly in an episode of "Mr. Bean", when the titular character attends a church mass; it is sung as he enters but ends before he gets a chance to join in.

Its usage in the movie Titanic is an anachronism. The version sung in the movie is the 1940 Protestant Episcopal version, which was not yet written when the Titanic sank in 1912. However, the film is essentially accurate in that the ship’s passengers did sing the song - albeit in its original version - during the hymn service of Reverend Ernest Courtenay Carter.

This song is referenced in David Weber’s "Flag in Exile" as part of a religious service aboard a Royal Manticore Navy superdreadnought.

The last strains of the song can be heard in the video opening of Jane’s Fleet Command

It is quoted in the opening scenes of Terry Pratchett’s Nation.

The hymn forms part of the soundtrack to Crimson Tide, composed by Hans Zimmer, notably the track "Little Ducks". A voices and orchestra arrangement of the hymn, the track is credited to Zimmer.

Score ID
John Bacchus Dykes
Moderate (Grades 4-6)
1 minute
Quartet of Soprano Recorders
Classical music
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