President Franklin D. Roosevelt loved the song we call the Navy Hymn. It was sung at his funeral in Hyde Park, New York, on April 14, 1945. The words of the hymn were written in 1860 by William Whiting, who taught and directed a 16-voice boys choir. He penned them for a student who was about to set sail for America and who was apprehensive about the journey.
The beautiful tune was written by John B. Dykes and first published in 1861. He named the hymn tune Melita, the Roman name for Malta, the island where Paul was shipwrecked.
The hymn is a simple prayer based on the profound truth that the eternal God who created the universe controls all the elements of nature and can protect His own no matter how great the peril. Wind and wave are subject to His command. The first verse reads:
Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm doth bind 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.
When we or loved ones take a journey to some far-off destination, or if we only travel to and from work, we can be sure of His protection and care.
We need not fear shipwreck with Jesus at the helm.