Encyclopedia Titanica


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"Hold Me Up in Mighty Waters," a Suggestive Line in "Autumn"


Friends of the Titanic's Bandmaster Say He Believed In Music's Power to Prevent Panic

In his account of the sinking of the Titanic in Friday's TIMES Harold Bride, the wireless operator of the sunken liner, told how, just before the ship went down, the band on deck was playing "Autumn."' Some of the other survivors thought the band had played " Nearer My God to Thee."

It is most likely that McBride's [sic] memory, in this as in all the other details of the dreadful tragedy in which he played so important a part, served him with unfailing accuracy. The song "Autumn " occurs in an Episcopalian hymn book, and, as will be readily seen, there are many things in it that would fit appropriately the situation on the Titanic in the last moments of pain and darkness there. One line, "Hold me up In mighty waters," particularly may have suggested the hymn to some minister aboard the doomed vessel, who, it has been suggested. thereupon asked the remaining passengers to join in singing the hymn, in a last service aboard the sinking ship, soon to be ended by death itself.

Following is the hymn:

God of mercy and compassion!
Look with pity on my pain;
Hear a mournful, broken spirit
Prostrate at Thy feet complain;
Many are my foes, and mighty;
Strength to conquer I have none;
Nothing can uphold my goings,.
But Thy blessed Self alone.

Savior, look on Thy beloved,
Triumph over all my foes;
Turn to heavenly joy my mourning.,
Turn to gladness all my woes;
Live or die, or work or suffer,
Let my weary soul abide,
In all changes whatsoever,
Sure and steadfast by Thy side.

When temptations fierce assault me,
When my enemies I find,
Sin and guilt, and death and Satan,
All against my soul combined;
Hold me up in mighty waters,
Keep my eyes on things above,
Righteousness, divine Atonement,
Peace, and everlasting Love.

Lost Bandsmen Noted for Skill

"What about the bandsmen? Who were the people in the band?" These have been frequent queries.

Last night the members of the orchestra of the Celtic went ashore, and their first question was about the musicians of the Titanic, whom many of them knew intimately.

"Not one of them saved?" said John S. Carr, 'cellist on the Celtic. "We knew most of them well. They were Englishmen, you know. Every one of them, I think. Nearly all the steamship companies hire their musicians abroad, and the men go from one ship to another often. The musicians on the Titanic were picked from a number of other White Star ships. Most of them had bunked with some of the Celtic players."

"The thing I can't realize is that Happy Jock Hume is dead," said Louis Cross, a player of the bass viol. "The merriest, happiest young Scotchman you ever saw. His family had been making musical instruments in Scotland for generations. I heard him say one time that they were minstrels in the olden days. Jock was to have been married when he returned to Scotland. He'd been on the sister ship of the boat that went down, when she was mixed up in the collision with the Hawke some months ago. It was the maiden trip of the Olympic.

"His old mother heard of it, and did her best to get him to give up his playing on steamers. Hume was a man of exceptional talent. He expected to go in for chamber music, and regarded his work on the liners as a chance to advance his skill. But he liked the sea, and he made up his mind to finish his year with the Titanic.

"When he was bandmaster on the Carmania he played a little joke on a woman passenger. She'd given us a lot of trouble, pretending that she knew a great deal about music. Once she asked us to play a particularly intricate classical piece.

"Jock" whispered instructions, and at the close the woman came up and thanked him. But the piece we'd played was American ragtime, played slowly---and the woman didn't know the difference.

"Another cheery man was Fred Clark, bass viol, who was well known for his chamber music in Scotland. It was Clark's first voyage. When the White Star people looked up their music for the maiden voyage of the Titanic they were particularly anxious to have it of the very best. They offered Clark a large sum just for the single trip.

"Bandmaster Hartley was an ideal man for the position. He was of commanding stature, and was 30 years old. He had been bandmaster on the Mauretania. He played the violin.

Leader's Presence of Mind

"Hartley was a splendid man for the emergency he had to meet. The hour when the iceberg was struck was so late that the men were probably retiring or having a last smoke before going to bed. On the Titanic there was a special smoking room for the musicians, and the cabins opened off of this, so I don't think that he had much trouble in getting his own together. He was a great believer in the power of music to prevent panic. I don't think he waited for orders."

There were five other musicians on the Titanic. Herbert Taylor was the pianist, a skilled musician, about forty years of age. His wife is an actress. The 'cellist was George Woodward, unmarried, of Leeds, England. The other three men were Brailey, Krins and Breicoux, who formed a trio which played in the second cabin and when the other men were off duty.


Mark Baber, USA


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Encyclopedia Titanica (2010) SINKING SHIP'S BAND CHOSE FITTING HYMN (The New York Times, Sunday 21st April 1912, ref: #11707, published 11 October 2010, generated 17th March 2023 10:01:31 PM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/sinking-ships-band-chose-fitting-hymn-11707.html