Words: Verses 1-5, , in Hymns and Anthems, by William Johnson Fox, 1841; verse 6,

Music: Beth­a­ny (Ma­son), , 1856:

One night, some­time af­ter ly­ing awake in the dark, eyes wide open, through the still­ness in the house the mel­o­dy came to me, and the next morn­ing I wrote down the notes.

Al­ter­nate tunes:

  • American, com­pos­er un­known
  • Communion, , in the Eur­o­pe­an Psal­mist, 1872
  • Horbury, , 1861
  • Liverpool, (1822-77)
  • Propior Deo, , 1872 (us­es a mo­di­fied re­frain)
  • Rothwell (Shaw), , 1915

This hymn is sung at the end of the 1936 mo­vie San Fran­cis­co, which was nom­in­at­ed for sev­er­al Acad­e­my Awards. It is al­so played by the ship’s band in Ti­tan­ic, win­ner of the Acad­e­my Award for best pic­ture of 1997.

There are al­so ma­ny in­spir­ing true life stor­ies as­so­ci­at­ed with this hymn. Some Ti­tan­ic sur­viv­ors said it was played by the ship’s or­ches­tra as the ocean lin­er went down (though other sur­viv­ors said it was a dif­fer­ent song).

Another story con­cerns the death of Amer­i­can pre­si­dent Wil­liam Mc­Kin­ley, as­sass­in­at­ed in 1901. Dr. Mann, the at­tend­ing phy­si­cian, re­port­ed that among Mc­Kin­ley’s last words were “‘Near­er, my God, to Thee, e’en though it be a cross,’ has been my con­stant pray­er.” On the af­ter­noon of Sep­tem­ber 13, 1901, af­ter five min­utes of si­lence across the na­tion, bands in Un­ion and Mad­i­son Squares in New York Ci­ty played the hymn in hon­or of the fall­en pre­si­dent. It was al­so played at a me­mor­i­al ser­vice for him in West­min­ster Ab­bey, Lon­don.

The hymn was al­so played as the bo­dy of as­sas­sin­at­ed Amer­i­can Pre­sid­ent James Gar­field was in­terred at Lake­view Cem­e­te­ry in Cleve­land, Ohio.

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee.


Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer to Thee!

Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down,
Darkness be over me, my rest a stone.
Yet in my dreams I’d be nearer, my God to Thee.


There let the way appear, steps unto Heav’n;
All that Thou sendest me, in mercy given;
Angels to beckon me nearer, my God, to Thee.


Then, with my waking thoughts bright with Thy praise,
Out of my stony griefs Bethel I’ll raise;
So by my woes to be nearer, my God, to Thee.


Or, if on joyful wing cleaving the sky,
Sun, moon, and stars forgot, upward I’ll fly,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee.


There in my Father’s home, safe and at rest,
There in my Savior’s love, perfectly blest;
Age after age to be, nearer my God to Thee.