Easter Strangers


Crucifixion – Resurrection – Strangers on the road

This was my mantra this Easter.

My first day back at work after the long week-end allowed me to follow the journey of this mantra. At one end of the journey, there is an Anglican Church on one side of the road and a Uniting Church, with its empty cross, on the other side of the road. At the other end of the journey, there are two statues – one on each side of the road. In Luke’s version of the Easter story, the strangers on the road are frustrated with each other, but are still able to realise their deep love for one another. This Easter week end was memorable, at the very least, for the drama of groups ventilating their frustration at other groups of people. Let’s hope it ends in love.

The above mantra is a rhythm to accompany some old ocean-going hymns that interest me from the ‘Methodist Hymn Book’. These are songs that acknowledge the danger of the ocean and the longing for rescue and peace. Though they are hundreds of years old, they belong in the current public discussions about ‘strangers’ who ‘come by boat’. Too much public policy and sentiment has rallied around notions that it is right to acknowledge the danger of the ocean, and wrong to seek rescue and peace. Australians have songbooks used by people who came to Australia, in faith, by boat.  Here are some exerpts from one…

 #966 (A German Hymn)

Lord, whom winds and seas obey

Guide us through the watery way

In the hollow of thy hand

Hide, and bring us safe to land.


Eternal Father! Strong to save

Whose arm doth bind the restless wave

Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep

Its own appointed limits keep

O hear us when we cry to Thee

For those in peril on the sea!

#969 (An 18th century hymn, bearing a stunning resemblance to the jig ‘Over the Oceans’)

While lone upon the furious waves

Where danger fiercely rides

There is a hand, unseen, that saves,

And through the ocean guides.


And finally, here is a slightly modernised rendering (including musical score) of Hymn 594 from ‘Hymns Ancient and Modern’ (1924)

I’m trying to drag the importance of this music into the 21st century.

When through the torn canvas, the wild tempest streams…

Save or we perish


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