Words: , 1860. He wrote the lyr­ics as a po­em for a stu­dent about to sail for Amer­i­ca.

Music: Melita, , in Hymns An­cient and Mo­dern, 1861. Dykes fit­ting­ly named the tune af­ter a lo­cale as­so­ci­at­ed with a Bib­li­cal ship­wreck. Mel­i­ta was the isl­and the Apos­tle Paul reached af­ter his ship went down (Acts 28:1); to­day we know it as the isle of Mal­ta.

In America, “Eter­nal Fa­ther” is oft­en called the “Na­vy Hymn,” be­cause it is sung at the Na­val Acad­e­my in An­na­po­lis, Ma­ry­land. It is al­so sung on ships of the Brit­ish Roy­al Na­vy and has been trans­lat­ed in­to French. It was the fa­vor­ite hymn of U.S. Pres­i­dent Frank­lin Roo­se­velt and was sung at his fun­er­al in Hyde Park, New York, Ap­ril 1945. The Na­vy Band played it in 1963 as U.S. Pre­si­dent John Ken­ne­dy’s bo­dy was car­ried up the steps of the U.S. Cap­i­tol to lie in state. Roo­se­velt served as Sec­re­ta­ry of the Na­vy, and Ken­ne­dy was a PT boat com­mand­er in World War II.

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 danger’s 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.

Alternate verses:

Lord, guard and guide the men who fly
Through the great spaces in the sky.
Be with them always in the air,
In darkening storms or sunlight fair;
Oh, hear us when we lift our prayer,
For those in peril in the air!

Aloft in solitudes of space,
Uphold them with Thy saving grace.
Thou Who supports with tender might
The balanced birds in all their flight.
Lord, if the tempered winds be near,
That, having Thee, they know no fear.

Mary C. D. Hamilton (1915)

Eternal Father, Lord of hosts,
Watch o’er the men who guard our coasts.
Protect them from the raging seas
And give them light and life and peace.
Grant them from Thy great throne above
The shield and shelter of Thy love.

George H. Jenks, Jr., 1955. Jenks, band­mas­ter of the Unit­ed States Coast Guard, was di­rect­or of ca­det mu­sic­al ac­tiv­i­ties at the Coast Guard Acad­e­my, New Lon­don, Con­nec­ti­cut, when he wrote these words, which are known as the “Coast Guard Hymn.” It was first published in the Book of Worship for United States Forces in 1974.

God, who dost still the restless foam,
Protect the ones we love at home.
Provide that they should always be
By Thine own grace both safe and free.
O Father, hear us when we pray
For those we love so far away.

Hugh Taylor (date unknown)

O Father, King of earth and sea,
We dedicate this ship to Thee.
In faith we send her on her way;
In faith to Thee we humbly pray:
O hear from Heaven our sailor’s cry
And watch and guard her from on high!

Author/date unknown

And when at length her course is run,
Her work for home and country done,
Of all the souls that in her sailed
Let not one life in Thee have failed;
But hear from Heaven our sailor’s cry,
And grant eternal life on high!

Author/date unknown

Click here to hear the U.S. Na­vy Band’s Sea Chanters sing this hymn.