Words from the night (2)

In Songs in the Night (1996), Henry Gariepy has collected stories that stand behind songs and hymns born in the “night” of human experience.  Here is another song from this collection (see here for the first) — this one, written by celebrated author/poet Alfred Tennyson:

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar
When I put out to sea.

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam.
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell
When I embark.

For, though from out our bourne of time and place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.

The words, which may at points seem to twist and turn to the point that a contemporary mind (like mine!) cannot adequately grasp the thoughts, re­fer to a Thames Ri­ver sand ­bar over which ships could not pass un­til high tide.  Writ­ten in Ten­ny­son’s later years, the poem states with calm assurance that God will guide us through death, as He has in life, when it is time to move on.

Tennyson also wrote this, which I affirm:

“There lives more faith in honest doubt, believe me, than in half the creeds.”

3 thoughts on “Words from the night (2)

  1. Steve 07/06/2015 / 12:49 pm

    I found three gents in the dorm–1st and 2nd tenor and bass. I could handle baritone. We went to the men’s shower room–best acoustic on short notice. We quartet-ed this great hymn…and went on our way.

    Some 35 years later, I gathered an octet and took them to a dying former song leader’s bedside, and we sang this great hymn. In a few days, he went on his way–crossing the bar.


    • Brian Casey 07/06/2015 / 5:16 pm

      Your and Don’s comments extravagantly support the worth of this song. I don’t suppose I’ve sung it more than 15 or 20 times in my life, but it does seem to be one of the great ones.


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