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The Navy Hymn

Christ in the storm on the lake of Galilee • Rembrandt van Rijn • Holland • Gloriam Deo • Honor and Praise to the Maker of All Things
‘The Storm on the Sea of Galilee’ by Rembrandt van Rijn • 1633 painting depicting Jesus calming the storm, described in the Gospel of Mark

“Eternal Father, Strong to Save”

This is a British hymn traditionally associated with seafarers of the Royal Navy. The hymn was written in 1860 by William Whiting.

The composer’s inspiration for the words of the hymn is Psalm 107, which describes the power and fury of the seas.

“Some went out on the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters.

They saw the works of the Lord, his wonderful deeds in the deep.

For he spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves.

They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths; in their peril their courage melted away”.

— Psalm 107: 23–26

It is the Hymn of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, the Royal Navy Hymn, and the U.S. Navy Hymn. It was made popular by the Royal Navy and the U.S. Navy in the late 19th century.

Variations of the hymn were soon adopted by many branches of the armed forces of the United Kingdom and the United States.

Other services that have adapted the hymn include the Royal Marines, Royal Air Force, the British Army, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the U.S. Marine Corps.

Many other Commonwealth nations have also adopted it.

The hymn has a long tradition in the merchant marine. It is regularly used by ship’s chaplains, and is sung during services on ocean crossings.

The music in this video is by The City Of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. It is part of the film soundtrack score by Hans Zimmer in the 1995 motion picture Crimson Tide.

Hans Zimmer won the Grammy Award in 1996 for Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture or for Television. Zimmer has described it as one of his personal favorites.

I researched the D646 hull number of the ship in this video. The ship is Latouche-Tréville (D646), an anti-submarine destroyer of the French Marine Nationale (Navy). The ship was laid down February 15, 1984, launched March 19, 1988, and commissioned July 16, 1988. Latouche-Tréville (D646) is still in service with the French Navy.

The French Navy does not use the term “destroyer” for its ships. In the French Navy, larger anti-submarine ships, like Latouche-Tréville (D646), are referred to as “frégates” (frigates). Smaller anti-submarine ships are referred to as “avisos” (corvettes).

She is the third French vessel named after the 18-19th century politician and admiral Louis-René Levassor de Latouche Tréville.

Latouche-Treville (D646) • Marine Nationale • France • Gloriam Deo • Honor and Praise to the Maker of All Things
Latouche-Tréville (D646), anti-submarine destroyer of the French Marine Nationale, steams in the Gulf of Aden, April 12, 2019

In the summer of 2009, Latouche-Tréville (D646) was filmed in stormy seas as part of the French documentary film Océans, by Jacques Perrin et Jacques Cluzaud. This video is the film clip of the ship as she appeared in the documentary.

If you can, please view this video in full screen mode to experience the awesome, thundering power, and immensity of a furious storm at sea, as shown in the video. (Click the partially open square at the lower right corner of the video.) To leave full screen mode, click the “Esc” button at the upper left corner of your keyboard.

On April 18, 2015, Latouche-Tréville (D646) escorted a full-size replica of the 18th century sailing ship Hermione, as it departed La Rochelle, France. This was Hermione‘s maiden voyage across the Atlantic to Yorktown, Virginia.

In June 2015, Hermione and Latouche-Tréville (D646) arrived safely at Yorktown. She returned to Brest with Hermione on August 10, 2015. Reconstruction of the sailing ship Hermione began in Rochefort, Charente-Maritime, France in 1997.

The original Hermione was the ship that carried General Lafayette to the United States in 1780.

The year, 1780, was one of the darkest, and most desperate years for General Washington, and the American War of Independence.

The following year, 1781, was also a year of crisis for General Washington’s Continental Army. Congress was bankrupt. It was nearly impossible to pay soldiers whose three-year terms had expired. Popular support for the war reached an all time low. Washington had to put down mutinies in the Pennsylvania Line and in the New Jersey Line. Congress even voted to cut funding for the Army.

In spite of these desperate conditions, Washington still managed to hold the army together.

The original Hermione was a fast, maneuverable, Concorde-class light frigate of the French Navy. The ship was laid down March 1788, launched April 28, 1779, and commissioned June 1779.

General Lafayette embarked on Hermione at Rochefort on March 11, 1780, and arrived in Boston on April 28. Lafayette was bringing secret news that he had secured French reinforcements (5,500 men and five frigates) for General Washington.

As it turned out, this was rather good news for the United States of America. Hermione received and hosted the entire American Congress on board in May 1781.

Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, le Marquis de Lafayette (1757 – 1834) was a French aristocrat and military officer. He was known in the United States simply as Lafayette.

General Lafayette fought for the United States in the American War of Independence. General Lafayette commanded American troops in several battles, including the Siege of Yorktown.

After returning to France, he was a key figure in the French Revolution of 1789 and the July Revolution of 1830.

Battle of the Virginia Capes • September 5, 1781 • Gloriam Deo • Honor and Praise to the Maker of All Things
Battle of the Virginia Capes • September 5, 1781 • painting owned by the U.S. Navy on display at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum in Norfolk, VA

In the spring and summer of 1781, General Lafayette and other Continental commanders were chasing British General Charles Earl Cornwallis around the southern states. In August 1781, General Cornwallis stopped running, and dug in at Yorktown, Virginia.

Lafayette took up position on Malvern Hill, and placed his artillery on high ground surrounding the British. Lafayette’s containment trapped the British army in Yorktown.

On September 5, 1781, a French fleet, commanded by Rear Admiral François Joseph Paul, le Comte de Grasse defeated a British fleet commanded by Rear Admiral Sir Thomas Graves near the mouth of Chesapeake Bay.

The victory of Admiral DeGrasse in the Battle of the Virginia Capes, deprived General Cornwallis of naval protection and support. The French naval force prevented the British from delivering reinforcements from New York, or evacuating the British army by sea. The British could not escape. They were absolutely trapped in Yorktown.

Days earlier, Admiral DeGrasse had conducted an amphibious operation near Yorktown, landing several French regiments from the West Indies to support Lafayette at Yorktown.

A second French fleet, commanded by Admiral Jacques-Melchior Saint-Laurent, le Comte de Barras, had sailed from Newport, Rhode Island. They landed artillery and heavy siege guns in support of General Lafayette at Yorktown.

Meanwhile, General Washington’s Continental Army of about 2,000 men were marching south to Yorktown. French regiments of 450 officers and 5,300 men marched side by side to Yorktown with General Washington’s army.

It was in 1780 that French King Louis XVI dispatched the French expeditionary force to America to reinforce General Washington. General Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, le comte de Rochambeau, commanded the French expeditionary force. It was known as l’Expédition Particulière (the Special Expedition).

General Rochambeau commanded four infantry regiments, the Soissonnais, the Saintonge, the Royal Deux-Ponts, and the Gatinais. Some men of this last regiment remained in Providence to guard the baggage and munitions stored in the Old Market House. The regiment also protected the surgeons and nurses at the hospital in University Hall against possible British attack.

Many soldiers in the Royal Deux-Ponts (“Royal Regiment of Two Bridges”) came from the region around the city of Zweibrücken (“Two Bridges”), a German town on the border with France.

‘The World Turned Upside Down’ by Mort Kinstler 2006 painting depicting the Surrender of the British army at Yorktown, Virginia on September 5, 1781 • Gloriam Deo • Honor and Praise to the Maker of All Things
‘The World Turned Upside Down’ by Mort Kinstler • 2006 painting depicting the British surrender at Yorktown, Virginia on October 19, 1781

It was in July 1781 that Rochambeau’s regiments left Newport, Rhode Island. They marched across Connecticut to join General Washington’s army on the Hudson River near New York. Washington and Rochambeau then marched their combined forces south to Yorktown, Virginia.

The French and American soldiers marched 680 miles through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland. They reached Williamsburg, Virginia on September 14, 1781. Eight days later, on September 22, they combined with troops commanded by General Lafayette, holding the high ground around Yorktown.

The Washington–Rochambeau Revolutionary Route (W3R) is a designated National Historic Trail. Signs along the route, exhibits, and interpretive literature describe the crucial role of French diplomatic, military, and economic assistance provided to the United States.

With the fleet of Admiral DeGrasse trapping the British army inside Yorktown, and keeping the British navy from Yorktown, the French and American forces began the siege of the city on September 28.

On October 14, 1781, in a bayonet assault at night, Lafayette’s 400 men of the Royal Deux-Ponts took Redoubt Number 9, and Alexander Hamilton’s 400 men of New York and Connecticut light infantry took Redoubt Number 10. Capturing these two strong points was the key that broke the British defenses.

After a failed British counter attack, General Cornwallis surrendered five days later, on October 19, 1781.

After six years and six months of inconclusive fighting against the Continental army, the British Parliament and the British people were sick of the war. They despaired of ever beating the Continental army and their French allies. The surrender of Cornwallis led to peace two years later.

The Treaty of Paris was signed in Paris on September 3, 1783 by representatives of King George III of Great Britain and representatives of the United States of America. The treaty ended the American War of Independence, and recognized a new, independent nation, the United States of America.

Thank you France.

U. S. Naval Academy Glee Club Tribute to Pearl Harbor. “Eternal Father”, The Navy Hymn. In memory of the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, this song is dedicated to those who lost their lives in the defense of the United States of America.

Eternal Father, Strong to Save
The Navy Hymn of the United States and the United Kingdom

Eternal Father, strong to save
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave
Who biddest the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep
Oh, 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 walked on the foaming deep
And calm amidst its rage didst sleep
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea

Most Holy Spirit! Who didst brood
Upon the chaos dark and rude
And bid its angry tumult cease
And give, for wild confusion, peace
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea

O Trinity of love and power
Our family shield in dangers hour
From rock and tempest, fire and foe
Protect us wheresoever we go
Thus evermore shall rise to Thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea

Songwriters: William Whiting – lyrics (1860), John Bacchus Dykes – music (1861)