Nearer My God To Thee, Autumn, etc


Paul Lee

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Eva Hart said in later years that she heard this played as she was in a lifeboat, but didn't recognise it till it was played at a memorial service in a church a few weeks later, which had a vivid effect on her.

Did she ever say which version was played - US, British or Methodist version?

Best wishes

Paul
 

George Behe

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Hi, Paul!

Don Lynch and I visited Eva at her Chadwell Heath apartment back in the 1980s, and I videotaped much of our Titanic-related discussion with her. The question of NMGTT came up, and I seem to recall asking Eva to hum the version that she heard. Unless my memory is playing tricks on me, Eva hummed the version that is heard in A Night to Remember. (I haven't looked at that tape in twenty years, though, so please take this info with a grain of salt unless I confirm it to you in the future.)

For what it's worth, though, Eva was not above 'gilding the lily' every so often when it came to telling her Titanic story. Don and I are aware of several instances where she added new "facts" to her story (she did so at least once during our visit with her), so I don't necessarily take her "humming" of one version of NMGTT as gospel (although I *do* believe that that hymn was played on board the Titanic during the sinking.)

All my best,

George
 

George Behe

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Hi, Paul!

Somewhere in my boxes of unsorted material I have a "pre-Ballard" audio tape in which Eva adamantly insisted that the Titanic went down in one piece. (As you know, she changed her story once Ballard discovered that the wreck was in two pieces.)

Another example concerns Eva's stewardess (whom she claimed was Lucy Snape.) Eva told Don and me that, soon after the collision, Mr. Hart was undecided about how serious the accident really was and asked Lucy Snape for advice. According to Eva, Lucy said, "I'll go ask my fiance,' who happens to be one of the wireless operators. He'll tell me what's going on."

Don and I exchanged glances when Eva told us that, because Lucy Snape was recently widowed at the time of the Titanic's maiden voyage; we're both pretty sure that Eva was adding a few colorful details to her story in order to spice it up a bit.

On a separate visit to Eva's home, Eva told Don one or two other stories that he expressed strong reservations about when he and I discussed the stories later. Since I wasn't present when Eva told these stories, though, I won't repeat them here.

Hope this info will be of use to you, old chap.

All my best,

George
 
Mar 20, 2000
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To throw in a bit here about Eva Hart - she had a friendship with Edith Russell in the last years of Edith's life. Don told this to me and while I won't go into specifics, it would appear that Eva's criticisms of Edith were along the same lines as those directed at herself later on - namely that she was a bit arrogant and melodramatic. Interesting, I thought, that she could spot that in someone else!

I always thought there was a touch of the theatrical in Eva (And I am SURE there was in Edith). That accent of Eva's - so utterly aristocratic - seemed a bit improvised at times. It gave me the impression of a hearing an address by the Queen; so odd, coming from a small town magistrate.

But she must have been fun and charming in her own way. Was she, George, or will you have to plead the fifth on that one?
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Kyrila Scully

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Here's an interesting aside to the hymn. According to a website I found listing all the songs new and popular in 1912, they list "Nearer My God to Thee." Now, my church hymnal lists dates pre-Civil War, but maybe those dates are the dates the composers were born? Hmmm.

Kyrila
 

Dave Gittins

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Kyrila, NMGTT dates from 1862. The words were written by Sarah Flower Adams and the original tune was by her sister. The hymn had a somewhat checkered career, as Adams was a Unitarian and the words offended the mainstream churches. The words were often changed. I'm pretty sure that the version on this site has an additional verse, designed to make it more orthodox.

While I'm at it, I suggest that the English passengers would have known the so-called American tune, Bethany. It had been taken to the UK by evangelists during the 19th century. In Australia, it was in common use and it's the tune engraved on the monument to the band in Broken Hill. In 1912, it was frequently played in 6/4 metre, giving the effect of a slow waltz.
 

Noel F. Jones

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On the issue of the purportedly unique unsinkability of Titanic I was assailed by this lady in the letter columns of a national daily with her anecdote of being reassured before embarkation "not that they say is unsinkable my dear, but is unsinkable"; her deeming this to be "flying in the face of God". All so far fetched as to be terminally improbable.

Or, put another way, as big a load of rowlocks as has ever been concocted after the sinking.

I can now better understand its origins.

Noel
 

Paul Lee

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Hi Noel,
Can you provide any more details? I didn't know Eva was such a prickly character (unless you count the salvage debate)

Thanks
Paul

 

George Behe

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Hi, Noel!

>On the issue of the purportedly unique >unsinkability of Titanic

I wasn't aware that the Titanic was unique in having a reputation for unsinkability. In fact, if I recall correctly, an ET thread exists which lists a number of other vessels that were described with that adjective. (For that matter, the Olympic was described with that adjective even *after* the Titanic disaster.)

All my best,

George
 
Jul 9, 2000
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I've heard the "Practically unsinkable" lable applied to a number of period vessels, particularly in the Shipbuilder articles and specials that Mark Warren collected in that two volumn set he published. The Empress of Ireland and the Lusitania for example.

We all know how that turned out!
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Paul Lee

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ISTR an old White Star publicity brochure which was produced when the Titanic and Olympic were either on the stocks, or when the latter had launched. This brochure was published in a Commutator c.1991/2.
In it, the last sentence says very definitely that the two ships are unsinkable!

Cheers
Paul

 

Noel F. Jones

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George,

"I wasn't aware that the Titanic was unique in having a reputation for unsinkability. In fact, if I recall correctly, an ET thread exists which lists a number of other vessels that were described with that adjective. (For that matter, the Olympic was described with that adjective even *after* the Titanic disaster."

We seem to have a syntactical contretemps....

My intended inference both in my post and at the material time was that Titanic was purportedly 'uniquely unsinkable', that is to say, unsinkable to the exclusion of all other vessels. We now know that other vessels similarly equipped with command-operated w/t doors were also described as being 'practically unsinkable'; which description, intemperate though it be, might be described as sustainable in the light of cumulative experience prior to the Titanic disaster.

The burden of my letter to the press to which Eva Hart responded was that Titanic became (unqualifiedly) unsinkable after she'd sank for the benefit of the sensationalist press at the time. All this took place in the 1980s and I didn't archive the event.

(It wasn't my intention to stir up the old 'unsinkability' issue of itself.)

Noel
 

George Behe

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Hi, Noel!

>The burden of my letter to the press to which Eva >Hart responded was that Titanic became
>(unqualifiedly) unsinkable after she'd sank for >the benefit of the sensationalist press at the >time.

Thanks very much for clarifying the issue. However, your posting suggested that the unqualified 'unsinkable' label for the Titanic was an exclusively post-sinking phenomenon, and that isn't the case; Thomson Beattie referred to the Titanic as 'unsinkable' (in writing and without any qualifications) before he ever set foot on the vessel.

All my best,

George
 
Mar 20, 2000
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"...Which rather begs the question: what had Thomson Beattie read which caused him to come to that conclusion?..."

I believe it's been established that White Star's own promotional material used the term 'unsinkable.' Also the technical journals and, to some extent, the popular press were touting the ship as such.

I think it's also likely that White Star's booking agents and other representatives pushed the "unsinkable" angle to customers directly.

For instance, Edith Russell and Lady Duff Gordon (who both booked their passage through the Paris WSL office) recalled that the clerk issuing their tickets praised Titanic as unsinkable.

Edith even recalled that Nicholas Martin, head of White Star in France, reiterated to her on the tender (he accompanied the passengers from Paris) that the ship was unsinkable.
 

George Behe

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Hi, Noel!

My website contains a number of sources in which the adjective "unsinkable" was used to describe the Olympic and Titanic. The *oral* tradition about unsinkability merely omitted the qualifiers that appeared in these reports.

Hi, Randy!

Albert Caldwell, Kornelia Andrews, Marguerite Frolicher-Stehli and Ernst Persson all wrote letters (before the Carpathia even had a chance to reach New York) which told how they had been advised by crewmen during the sinking that the ship was unsinkable. There's absolutely no doubt that there was a widespread oral tradition to that effect prior to the Titanic disaster.

All my best,

George
 

Noel F. Jones

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Why then this absurd preoccupation with "unsinkability"? It's not as if there had been a spate of mailship sinkings and intending passengers needed to be reassured accordingly.

The term has no credibility in naval architecture in that, leaving aside the phenomenon of 'buoyancy cargo', all ships are eminently sinkable if you punch enough holes in 'em.

The 'Shipbuilder' reference was in the 'trade press' and obscure accordingly (and there it should have remained). Furthermore its application to Titanic stems from all vessels equipped with command-operated w/t doors being similarly described. At which falls away any purported 'uniqueness' apropos Titanic.

How come "practically unsinkable" gets abstracted from the trade press and propelled into the popular domain PRIOR to the disaster? I would not have thought it desirable to highlight buoyancy as a selling proposition. It subliminally connotes vulnerability and lack of confidence in the product - and that obtained in March 1912 as it does today.

The publicists would surely have been better advised to vaunt their more normal stock-in-trade of schedules, deep pile carpeting, elevators and menus etc. and to eschew any excursions into intemperate expositions of quasi-technical survivability attributes.

It all seems highly improbable to me.

Noel
 

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