The circumstantial hymn
The English luxury liner “Titanic” on her maiden voyage, from Southampton, England to New York, U.S.A., colided with an iceberg, shortly after midnight, Sunday, April 14, 1912, suffering one of history’s worst maritime disasters, in which 1500 died and only 700 survived.
The ship was considered by its builders to be ‘unsinkable’. One British government’s inspector, after going over the craft, actually said, “Not even God could sink this ship”. But the ship sank in less than three hours.
The story of the shipwreck has many versions, as does the use of the hymn “Nearer, My God, to Thee” (The Baptist Hymnal, no.458), by Sarah Fuller Flower Adams and Lowell Mason, translated by João Gomes da Rocha (Cantor Cristão, no.283, and Hinário para o Culto Cristão, n ° 399, brazilian baptist hymnals) with the title “Mais perto quero estar” (I want to be closer).
According to one version, the words were sung by the ship’s passengers to the melody “Bethany”, and played by the ship’s band; this version is probably based on circumstantial music from the films, “Titanic” (1953), “A Night to Remember” (1958), “S.O.S.Titanic” (1979) and “Raise the Titanic!” (1980).
However, this version has been contested by English observers, who argue that the melody “Bethany” was not associated with the words of Sarah Adams; the words were sung to another melody.
Now, with the film, “Titanic” (1997), a third version has emerged: the words were not sung; just three violinists played the melody “Bethany”. Perhaps because, in the opinion of James Cameron, director of the film, we no longer sing traditional hymns …
The prophetic hymn
Solomon Louis Ginsburg, in his autobiography, makes a point of relating the importance of the episode in his own life.
On the eight of April, 1902, in Maceió, Alagoas, Brazil, he wrote a hymn about a shipwreck (Cantor Cristão, no.325); ten years later, Ginsburg went through an extraordinarily impressive experience.
In 1912, arriving in London, he immediately reserved passage to New York. Some trips were canceled, leaving him the option of traveling on the “Majestic”, on the 2nd of April, or on the “Titanic”, timed for the 10th of April. Ginsburg tells us that he had a strong desire to travel on the “Titanic”, but decided to up his arrival in New York.
Traveling in a very modest vessel, Ginsburg arrived in New York on that very tragic Sunday. Had he delayed in Lisbon just one week, he would have been obliged to travel on the “Titanic”.
Two Hymns Related to the “Titanic”
The circumstantial hymn