Nearer My God To Thee?


About_Titanic

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If all of a sudden Harold bride's words are true when he and Phillips went on deck the Band played Autumn then there were 30 seconds left to play Nearer my God to the. Incidentally interestingly that when Phillips ran out on deck lifeboat B must be launched: red circle this is Orchestra. Green circle this are Phillips and Bride.
Безымянный.png
 

batman614u

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Mar 6, 2020
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It has been a subject of debate since the night of the sinking.
I suppose we can never know for certain now, however, the subject of the final song played by Wallace Hartley and the Titanic orchestra is and will forever be a subject of legend and keen interest.
I am inclined to believe what Walter Lord, wrote in his book, A Night To Remember."
Lord was a meticulous researcher and i believe if anybody could have ferreted out the truth on this matter, it would have to be him.
From page 74 of his book:

"The men were tugging at both collapsibles when the bridge dipped under at 2:15 and the sea rolled aft along the boat deck.
Colonel Gracie and Clinch Smith turned and headed for the stern.
A few steps and they were blocked by a sudden crowd of men and women pouring up from below.
They all seemed to be steerage passengers.
At this moment Bandmaster Hartley tapped his violin.
The Ragtime ended and the strains of the Episcopal hymn "Autumn" flowed across the deck and drifted in the still night far out over the water.
In the boats women listened with wonder.
From a distance there was certain stateliness about the moment."

Here is the music.
In my humble opinion, it is magnificent, and Hartley could not have made a better choice, given the moment and the gravity of the situation.
Remember, the orchestra started playing this when the ship had about 10 more minutes to live....
 

Kyle Naber

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I do believe that this song was played, but I don’t think it was the last. I think Songe d’Autome was either played two songs or one before Nearer My God to Thee. I can’t find the exact source, but apparently Hartley said in an interview that if he ever were on a sinking ship, his last song would be NMGTT (most likely the Methodist version, as that was his division of faith).
 
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batman614u

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Interesting.
Autumn is about a six minute song.
Did he and his band mates have time to follow up with Nearer My God To Thee?
If they began this song at about 2:15 and the ship sank at 2:20, it doesn't seem possible.
Of course there are no wrong answers because none of us knows for certain.
Either song is lovely and appropriate.
Personally, in my heart, I love Autumn.....
It seems perfect for that moment.
Sad, Beautiful & Heartbreaking.
 
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I'm in the camp that Nearer my God to Thee wasn't played, and that the recollections of it were inspired by word-of-mouth and a case of the Mandela Effect. I think in our minds, it would be poetic that they'd perform a stoic hymn for the "world's greatest maritime disaster" at that time, but I agree with Gracie, by performing NMGT they are effectively telling the remaining passengers onboard they're about to become a bunch of stiffs. Hardly comforting.

What I still wonder is if the band would have been performing when the water reached the boat deck as Harold Bride witnessed? Given it was dark, they might not had seen the wave, nor had the other passengers on the deck and were taken by surprise? Bride says he heard the band playing still. Gracie didn't. Another passenger whom I forget now said the band had wrapped up long ago.
 
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batman614u

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As Walter Lord said, In A Night To Remember, Bride was a professional observer.
He made his living by listening and by paying attention to details.
I'm inclined to take Bride's word over many others.
Just my 2 cents.
 
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I’ll take Hartley’s word for it.
Translation: I'll take Hartley's word based on a quote he is attributed to have said before the sinking, because it fits inside my box.

As Walter Lord said, In A Night To Remember, Bride was a professional observer.
He made his living by listening and by paying attention to details.
I'm inclined to take Bride's word over many others.
Just my 2 cents.
Yes, but Walter Lord did get things wrong in A Night to Remember, some of which he eventually corrected. Bride too has had some of his observations come into question, I believe it's been noted he was not immune to being a bit of storyteller. I think it's generally agreed that "Autumn" is a vague reference, and that he is the only one to have recalled hearing it. I inclined to take Bride's word too, but mainly on the point that he still heard the band playing when he exited the deck house, which I think is significant that they'd be still performing at that point.


I think Gracie's opinion on his doubt that any hymns were performed should be given merit as it reflects a social more at the time, that, in his mind, any hymns to have been performed would had been highly tacky on the orchestra's part with current climate of peril at hand. As the entire orchestra perished, we can never ask them directly; were the orchestra playing for their own enjoyment because they loved playing music or were they playing for the passengers? They weren't officially asked to perform as they were not crew members.

To take the point further, the quote said by Wallace Hartley appears to been misconstrued. He said he'd consider Nearer My God to Thee performed at his funeral, not on a sinking ship. This clarification was indicated by Ian Whitcomb who was the film's musical advisor, who then goes on to insist on Songe D'Autumnne with certainty in part to Bride's mention. Other sources for the quote say Hartley name dropped the song specifically for playing on a sinking ship, so the quote itself seems to be vague in specification. Would Hartley coheres his bandmates to perform a impromptu swan song for himself as a make-shift funeral when he's not quite a corpse yet? Passengers in distant lifeboats and 1912 tabloids say yes.
 
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Kyle Naber

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Translation: I'll take Hartley's word based on a quote he is attributed to have said before the sinking, because it fits inside my box.
I was unaware that there was question about his pre-disaster statement.

This debate, to me, is reminiscent of the breakup. Why did so many people claim something if it allegedly didn't happen? Why do these few outliers (individuals like Lightoller in this instance) matter more than the whole?

I don't find it out-of-the-ordinary for a band to play a hymn as their final moments just as much as I don't find Father Byles giving out last rights out-of-the-ordinary. I know I'm not Hartley, but if it were me, why would I spend my last minutes playing a 2020 pop song instead of a song that reflects what I am about to potentially experience for all of eternity? It's an interesting thought. Were they playing for the 1,500 still on board, were they playing for themselves, or maybe both?
 
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Certainly I won't rule out NMGTT completely, there is a chance they could have played it, Hartley may had turned to sentiment and decided on a fitting tribute to himself and the other passengers. In which case, I wonder about a value dissonance between first class gentlemen as Col. Gracie, from the orchestra who were second class, like Father Byles, and had have held a different cultural attitude of appropriateness creating mood toward chaos.

It was reported that the passengers sang NMGTT during the final death throes of the SS Valencia, and that isn't to rule out it couldn't have been used on Titanic.

It's too bad Bride couldn't specify what he meant by Autumn. I also wonder what the ragtime piece was. If we took his statement for truth, then it does confirm without doubt the orchestra was still playing when the boat deck was flooding, that they had time to wrap up the ragtime music, and play one more song.

Any further thoughts on this?
 

Kyle Naber

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If we took his statement for truth, then it does confirm without doubt the orchestra was still playing when the boat deck was flooding, that they had time to wrap up the ragtime music, and play one more song.
The panic would have probably exploded once the people saw the water crash onto the boat deck and most likely would have drowned out any sound of the band from the boats. I’m not sure how close you’d have to be to either see or hear the band at this point in the sinking.
 
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The panic would have probably exploded once the people saw the water crash onto the boat deck and most likely would have drowned out any sound of the band from the boats. I’m not sure how close you’d have to be to either see or hear the band at this point in the sinking.
This is one of those questions about Titanic that will probably never be solved. Many conflicting witnesses all reporting something different. But your statement about the panic seems correct to me. I would have to check it out more but I would probably go with what the majority of people in lifeboats heard as the last song. I believe they were less paniced and confused about things in the final moments.