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~Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me

       There are hymns that speak of soldiers, pilgrims, shepherds, sheep, precious jewels, and many other relationships in life that are meaningful to us.

       Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me was written especially about sailors in language they knew well—charts, compasses, and the absolute need for a competent pilot to guide their crafts over the tempestuous seas.

       In 1870, Edward Hooper became pastor of a small church in the New York harbor area, know as the Church of Sea and Land. It was while ministering at his sailor’s mission in New York City that Edward Hopper wrote this hymn text. The theme of this hymn text was suggested by the gospel account recorded in Matthew 8:23-27, where Jesus calmed the raging sea of Galilee.

       Hopper wrote the hymn anonymously as he did all of his works. This was typical of Hopper’s humble, gentle spirit in all that he did for God. In 1880, a special anniversary celebration for the Seamen’s Friend Society was held, and Edward Hopper was asked to write a new hymn for that occasion. Instead he brought and read Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me. which had already become quite widely known in various hymnal publications. For the first time, the secret of Hopper’s authorship of this hymn text became known.

       In 1888, at the age of seventy, Edward Hopper’s prayer expressed in the third stanza of his own hymn had is fulfillment. He was found dead sitting in his study chair, pencil in hand while writing a new poem on the subject of heaven.

—Kenneth Osbeck.


Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me[1]

1           Jesus, Savior, pilot me

Over life’s tempestuous sea;

Unknown waves before me roll,

Hiding rock, and treach’rous shoal;

Chart and compass came from Thee;

Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

2           As a mother stills her child,

Thou canst hush the ocean wild;

Boist’rous waves obey Thy will

When Thou say’st to them, “Be still;”

Wondrous Sov’reign of the sea,

Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

3           When at last I near the shore,

And the fearful breakers roar

’Twixt me and the peaceful rest,

Then, while leaning on Thy breast,

May I hear Thee say to me,

“Fear not, I will pilot thee.”


[1]Eckert, Paul, Steve Green’s MIDI Hymnal, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1998.






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