The Last Hymn

The Sabbath day was ending in a village by the sea,
The uttered benediction touched the people tenderly,
And they rose to face the sunset in the glowing lighted West
And then hastened to their dwellings for God’s blessed boon of rest.
But they looked across the waters and a storm was raging there.
A fierce spirit moved above them–the wild spirit of the air,
And it lashed, and shook, and tore them till they thundered,
groaned, and boomed,
But alas! for any vessel in their yawning gulfs entombed.
Very anxious were the people on that rocky coast of Wales,
Lest the dawns of coming morrows should be telling awful tales,
When the sea had spent its passion, and should cast upon the shore
Bits of wreck, and swollen victims, as it had done heretofore.
With the rough winds blowing round her a brave woman strained her eyes,
And she saw along the billows a large vessel fall and rise.
Oh! it did not need a prophet to tell what the end must be,
For no ship could ride in safety near that shore on such a sea.
Then the pitying people hurried from their homes and thronged the beach.
Oh, for power to cross the waters, and the perishing to reach.
Helpless hands were wrung in terror, tender hearts grew cold with dread,
As the ship urged by the tempest to the fatal rock-shore sped.
She has parted in the middle! Oh, the half of her goes down!
God have mercy! Is His heaven far to seek for those who drown?
So when next the white shocked faces looked with terror on the sea,
Only one last clinging figure on a spar was seen to be.
Nearer the trembling watchers came the wreck tossed by the wave,
And the man still clung and floated, though no power on earth could save.
“Could we send him a short message! Here’s a trumpet, shout away!”
‘Twas the preacher’s hand that took it, and he wondered what to say.
Any memory of his sermon? Firstly? Secondly? Ah, no.
There was but one thing to utter in that awful hour of woe.
So he shouted through the trumpet, “Look to Jesus! Can you hear?”
And “Aye, aye, sir!” rang the answer o’er the waters loud and clear,
Then they listened, “He is singing, ‘Jesus, lover of my soul,'”
And the winds brought back the echo, “While the nearer waters roll.”
Strange indeed it was to hear him, “Till the storm of life is past.”
Singing bravely o’er the waters, “Oh, receive my soul at last.”
He could have no other refuge, “Hangs my helpless soul on thee;”,
“Leave, oh, leave me not!”–the singer dropped at last into the sea.
And the watchers looking homeward, through their eyes, by tears made dim,
Said, “He passed to be with Jesus in the singing of that hymn.”

Marianne Farningham

The hymn in question:

Jesus, Lover of My Soul

Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to thy bosom fly,
while the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high:
hide me, O my Savior, hide, till the storm of life is past;
safe into the haven guide, O receive my soul at last!

Other refuge have I none, hangs my helpless soul on thee;
leave, ah! leave me not alone, still support and comfort me!
All my trust on thee is stayed, all my help from thee I bring;
cover my defenseless head with the shadow of thy wing.

Thou, O Christ, art all I want; more than all in thee I find:
raise the fallen, cheer the faint, heal the sick, and lead the blind.
Just and holy is thy name; I am all unrighteousness;
false and full of sin I am, thou art full of truth and grace.

Plenteous grace with thee is found, grace to cover all my sin;
let the healing streams abound; make and keep me pure within:
thou of life the fountain art, freely let me take of thee;
spring thou up within my heart, rise to all eternity.

Charles Wesley

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