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St Oswald's

The parish church of Bollington

Bollington Road, Bollington Cross, SK10 5EG
07895 363 038



Sing-Along Hymns

Revd John Bacchus Dykes (1823–1876)


He was born in Hull. There were a number of clergymen in his family. By the age of 10, he was the unofficial assistant organist at St John's Church in Myton, Hull, where his grandfather (who had built the church) Revd Thomas Dykes was vicar and his uncle (also Thomas) was organist.

He was ordained Deacon at York Minster in January 1848. The following year he was appointed a minor canon of Durham Cathedral and shortly thereafter to the office of precentor. In 1862 he relinquished the precentorship on his appointment to the living of St. Oswald's, Durham, situated almost in the shadow of the Cathedral, where he remained until his death.

He is best known for over 300 hymn tunes he composed, many still in regular use. In each of the two hymns for seafarers on this page you can hear the sound of the rising waves in the first line of the harmony.

You can find more tunes by him in this collection for the following hymns:
Holy, Holy Holy, Lord God Almighty
How bright these glorious spirits shine
Lead, kindly light
O Strength and Stay
Praise to the Holiest in the height
The King of love my shepherd is

Eternal Father, strong to save

The words were written by William Whiting (1825-1878), sometime Master of Winchester College Choristers’ School. Whiting grew up near the ocean on the coasts of England, and at the age of thirty-five had felt his life spared by God when a violent storm nearly claimed the ship he was travelling on, instilling a belief in God’s command over the rage and calm of the sea. Some years later, he was approached by a student about to travel to the United States, who confided in Whiting an overwhelming fear of the ocean voyage. Whiting shared his experiences of the ocean and wrote the hymn to “anchor his faith”.

In more recent years different verses have been written for soldiers, airmen, coastguards and astronauts, etc. Here we have provided the original words.

Dykes wrote the tune Melita for this hymn for inclusion in the first edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern. Melita is the Latin name for Malta, where St Paul survived a shipwreck.

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!

O Saviour! whose almighty word
The winds and waves submissive heard,
Who walkedst on the foaming deep,
And calm amidst its rage did sleep:
O hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea!

O Sacred Spirit! who didst brood
Upon the chaos dark and rude,
Who bad’st its angry tumults cease,
And gavest light, and life, and peace:
O hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea!

O Trinity of love and power!
Our brethren shield in danger’s hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect them wheresoe’er they go;
And ever let there rise to Thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.


Fierce raged the tempest

The words to this hymn were written by Revd Godfrey Thring who also wrote From the eastern mountains.

After Jesus had preached the parable of the sower, He set off with the disciples in their boat. Mark 4.35-end: And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

The tune is St Aëldred by Dykes. According to the English Hymnal, the hymn should be sung “Very Slow – 66 beats per minute”. The version supplied here is at 85 beats per minute. I think that’s slow enough!

Fierce raged the tempest o’er the deep,
Watch did thine anxious servants keep;
But thou wast wrapped in guileless sleep,
Calm and still.

‘Save, Lord, we perish!’ was their cry,
‘O save us in our agony!’
The word above the storm rose high:
‘Peace! be still.’

The wild winds hushed; the angry deep
Sank, like a little child, to sleep;
The sullen billows ceased to leap,
At thy will.

So, when our life is clouded o’er,
And storm-winds drift us from the shore,
Say, lest we sink to rise no more,
‘Peace, be still.’

St Aëldred

For each hymn we have provided a set of verses together with an electronically generated sound-track. The sound track does not provide any words - just the tune.

The selection of hymns to be included was subject to certain limitations, notably the restrictions of copyright. This meant that many modern hymns were excluded, and the exclusion even applied to some updated versions of traditional hymns. Some publishers have made a few minor changes to make hymns more "inclusive" and have then claimed copyright over the revised text. So in most cases the ORIGINAL texts have been used, even though these may not be the versions that appear in modern hymnals.

In deciding what tunes to be used, this has largely been the Webmaster's personal choice. It is a mixture of familiar tunes and tunes that are not well-known, but deserve to be better known. The webmaster has included some personal favourites (and excluded some pet hates!). The soundtracks provided go with the words provided - if there are four verses, the tune is repeated four times. Where possible tunes have been provided with descants or alternative arrangements.

Wherever possible, there is an explanation of who wrote the words or tunes, the circumstances under which they were written, when (and sometimes why). Many hymns include references to verses appearing in the King James Version of the Bible; more modern translations were not then available! In some cases we have tried to explain these scriptural references or other instances where words have changed their meaning over time.

This selection of "Sing-along Songs of Praise" was originally a series of blog posts written during the COVID Lockdowns of 2020. It was intended to allow people to sing hymns in the safety and privacy of their own homes at a time when hymn-singing in church was not allowed (even if the church building was open!).

When hymns are sung as part of a church service, it is normally the case that the hymn books are set aside at the end of the hymn and the next part of the service continues. There is no time to sit and reflect on the meaning or the beauty of words and/or music. This collection allows you to take your time, to read, listen sing along, reflect, and to repeat a hymn again if you wish.



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Last modified: 22 February 2021