Nearer My God To Thee, Autumn, etc


Kylar

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My theory is this: there is sufficient evidence that the Titanic band played Nearer My God To Thee and other hymns.
Lead Kindly Light, When We Meet Beyond, Eternal Father Strong To Save, Abide With Me, Autumn and Nearer My God To Thee are all sourced by survivors. Keep this in mind, if you add all of those up in terms of length you are looking at about 25 minutes to an hour of hymns. This fits perfectly with the account of Dr. Washington Dodge. He says that the Titanic band was playing Lead Kindly Light when his boat was out on the water-which would be 1:35 am or so since he was in Boat 13. Thus, I think it is plausible both hymns were played.
Fyi, Hartley and Woodward were Methodists
Hume was a congregational church member
Clarke, Krins and Bricoux were Roman Catholics
Taylor and Brailey were Anglicans,
so yes Horbury is most likely
 
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Lifeboat 13 was launched at 1:40 A.M.. There has been extensive research about the launching times which are now known. The complete sequence can be read here, with the research itself being here.

Various accounts say ragtime was played until the later stages of the sinking, and only one or two hymns were played. Which means that until 2:00 A.M. or later, no hyms had been played yet. With less than 20 minutes to go until the ship had sunk, there was no time to play all 6 hymns you mentioned.
 

Arun Vajpey

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I know that this topic has been discussed in other threads in different ways, but I wanted to ask people to look at it from a logical perspective. I am probably stirring a Hornet's Nest in posting this.

Ever since Walter Lord published his book A Night To Remember in 1955 or thereabouts, the Titanic's band, or conglomeration of the two bands on board, has been depicted as heroes who continued to play on the deck of the sinking ship right until the last moment. As to the tunes they played, the usual claims are that it was intially ragtime music but later "Nearer my God unto thee" or "Songe de Autumne" or whatever.

While it was undoubtedly courageous of the bandsmen to have played to try and calm the passengers, I find it hard to believe that they went on doing so till the ship was in its final plunge. I know that there have been witnesses who claimed to that effect, notably Harold Bride as he and Jack Phillips emerged onto the boat deck at around 02:15 am. But some of the other 'witnesses' were already in lifeboats by then and some of those were at quite some distance from the sinking ship. That being the case, how could those people have heard the music, let alone recognise the tunes? Also, after about 01:30 am most prople on board would have known that the Titanic was going to sink and that there were not enough lifeboats for all those still on board. There must have been quite a bit of running around and shouting, if not outright panic. I find it highly improbable that in the midst of all that nosie and confusion, the band or bands stood around playing music on the sloping deck.

I know people will disagree, but my view about the music that reporting survivors continued to 'hear' is due to a combination of factors. The band probably played till around 01:30 am, which would have meant over an hour and that would have made a deep impact on a lot of eventual survivors. The soothing effect created by the music would have remained for a while even after the band stopped playing and that, combined with the shell shock effect caused by the disaster led a lot of surviovrs to claim, or even actually believe, that the band continued to play till the very end.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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In fact it might be possible... I think you have already mentioned in another thread! =)

Yes, I mentioned it in the tread about the stoker who tried to steal Jack Phillips' life jacket.

On a related note, I recall reading an article somewhere ( nothing to do with the Titanic ) about the soothing effect of music. While relaxing music undoubtedly helps in certain situations, it can also be intrusive in others, particularly if people need to think and act fast when there are very few options. I think in the last 45 minutes or so of the Titanic's life, the latter situation would have prevailed for the most part.
 

Doug Criner

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Legend has it that "Nearer My God To Thee," was the last piece played. Many believe that there is not strong evidence of that. The band members didn't survive nor did many of the passengers that would have heard it.
 

Kyle Naber

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Do you think that it all would have been too chaotic and loud to hear the music from the boats? What with the flexing of the ship, reported deep explosions, the water turbulence rushing on the deck, would a group of strings pull through the noise? Possibly it would be faint and distorted like the piano in this video:

 

robert warren

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I never believed the ships band played with water up to their knees. The slant would have too much at that point for anyone to stand. Plus everyone left on deck is running scared, freaking out, and somehow the band members are superhuman, able to play instruments and not get the breath knocked out of them with their first contact with freezing water.........please.Of course some people have unfairly accused the band of slowing down the evacuation process, since they say the music was on par with the stuff piped into food stores to make you slow down and chill out more.These people don't know that for an hour or so after the collision most people didn't think anything serious was wrong. This attitude of Titanics strength and unsinkability was not going to change regardless of whether the band had been playing or not.Also contrary to what has been shown in films the captain didn't order them to play-they just did it.
 

Kyle Naber

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I've wondered the same thing. I don't think that the band played until the VERY end, but about 10 minutes before when water bagan to lap over the boat deck.

I still am puzzled on how so many people claimed that they heard "Nearer My God To Thee" when the panic must have been ridiculously loud at the reported time of hearing the song.
 

robert warren

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I agree. There are actually 3 different versions of Nearer My God To Thee. Wallace Hartley was a Methodist and the tune they used was Propieor Deo sorry if misspelled.If you listen to this , it does have a haunting quality about it. This could explain so much confusion about what was actually played. The American survivors would have not really known this tune,or the one used in ANTR. Then you have conflicting reports of Col. Gracie saying that this hymn was not played and if it was, there would have been total panic of ensuing death which "we were trying to avoid".Harold Bride being a wireless operator and very accurate said they were playing Autumn, which he meant the waltz that was very popular in Britain. These two men were on that ship literally until the last so I tend to give them more credit.Also survivors in boats that were a quarter of a mile away were hearing so much more than music.I think it very possible that the sounds of a 46,000 ton ship in her death throes would have drowned out the sound of few violins and bass. Some historians have been somewhat exasperated by survivors lack of knowing any tunes that were played.However I don't think anyone sitting in those boats watching this ship and 1500 people die were in the mood to play Name That Tune.Just sayin.
 
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Kyle Naber

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As seen in the 1953 film, literally everyone on board stopped what they were doing just to sing “Nearer My God To Thee (Bethany).” Okay, I KNOW that never happened- but is there any truth to it? I think it was A Night To Remember by Walter Lord that claimed some people were singing towards the end. Could it be possible or probable that a small group chose to sing together before things got violent?
 
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Aaron_2016

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They may have sung while they played, or the passengers who were religious (perhaps many) joined in and the haunting strains of the hymn drifted towards the lifeboats. I have read accounts in newspapers which said the passengers sang as well. Frank Prentice mentions the band in this clip and heard them singing the hymn while they played.

Skip to 2:40

 
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Aaron_2016

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On a related note. Many of the survivors who got into the final aft lifeboats genuinely believed they were in the last lifeboats to leave the ship. Owing to the darkness of the deck, this may have been the general assumption by everyone who was there in the aft section (many hundreds). They saw the first lifeboats lowered down which had come from the forward section and they could see the crew were gradually working their way aft towards the final lifeboats in the aft section. Sadly owing to the dark and the sheer size of her length they very likely could not see the last remaining boats all the way forward beside the main bridge.


deck1.png



This could be the main reason why Bruce Ismay could not see anyone else to get in collapsible C, and they could not see him as they were all the way aft.

This would also mean that when lifeboat 15 left the ship the passengers in the aft section would have about 30 minutes of waiting time before the first major explosive sound and the violent tipping of the ship, so there would be a long period of calmness as they waited and collected their thoughts and hoped for rescue and prepared for the possibility that they might die, and I believe the ship's band would have played their final hymn to the huge crowd waiting in the aft section, and together they would sing. e.g.


Frank Prentice said he heard the band play 'Nearer My God to Thee' and heard people singing the hymn as he made his way aft.

Elias Nicola-Yarred said:
"In the stillness of the night and with sound traveling so well over water, we could hear the band playing on deck and people singing 'Nearer My God to Thee.'"

An unnamed steward from lifeboat 11 told reporters:
"The last thing they played was 'Nearer My God To Thee'. The voices of the women onboard joining in the singing came perfectly clear over the water."

Caroline Bonnell was reported to have said - "The men went down into the sea singing 'Nearer My God To Thee.'"

An unnamed survivor told reporters upon landing in New York - "They kept up the one tune 'Nearer My God To Thee.' We wanted to join them in the singing, but we were too much overcome with the sadness of it all."

Another unnamed survivor told reporters in New York - "When we pulled away we could hear 'Nearer My God To Thee,' and those in the boats took up the hymn. My, but it was solemn to hear that song, knowing many were singing the truth."


The 1953 Titanic film may have sourced several survivors and came to the conclusion that the passengers really did sing the hymn before the first big explosive sound and then the panic kicked in as the ship broke apart.


.
 
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Dan Kappes

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In the 1958 British film, A Night to Remember, the band plays the Horbury version which is more popular in Britain, where the film was made.

In the 1997 Cameron film and the 1953 film, the Bethany version is played, which is the more universally known and recognizable one.

Were the band members British and would they most likely have played the Horbury version instead of the Bethany version if they did play the song that night?
 

Kyle Naber

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It would have been the Methodist version “Propior Deo,” as Wallace Hartley was a Methodist. Besides this, there’s already a thread which goes more into depth about it.

Moderator's note: This message and the one before it are now part of the thread referred to in this message. MAB
 
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Dave Gittins

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There's no reason why the band couldn't have played Bethany. The tune was taken to Britain in the 19th century by American evangelists and by 1912 it was known in the British empire. In Australia we have a monument to the band in Broken Hill, in the far outback. The opening bars on Bethany are engraved on it. If it was known in the middle of nowhere it would have been very likely known by Hartley.

The argument will go on forever.
 

aerofool

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I have always been interested in the tales that the band played, "Nearer to God" as the boat sank. I was also fortunate enough to see the Violin in person that may have very well played that final song.

Lately, I ran across some interviews on youtube from the 60's and 70's from Titanic survivors stating that there was no music being played. They were very adamant about it too. Could it be possible that the position of the band on the boat may have made it difficult for everyone to hear? Is there any witness account to where the band was located?
 

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