Friday, January 02, 2009

Ulster 1912 - Part Two

The two great hymns of 1912 were also linked with the Titanic and the Ulster Covenant. It is said that as the Titanic sank into the icy waves, the string quartet (who had been playing up-tempo, jazzy dance tunes throughout the voyage) played the hymn Nearer My God to Thee. It was written in 1841 - some more information about the hymn is available here. There has been much debate about this over the years, some of it summarised here. It is usually sung to the tune "Bethany" - here's a clip from YouTube of a simple fiddle version:

The other hymn is O God Our Help in Ages Past, which was sung at many of the Ulster Covenant rallies and demonstrations in 1912, and became something of an anthem for the pro-Union cause. It's a paraphrase of Psalm 90 and was written by Isaac Watts and first published in 1719. Watts was a committed Non-Conformist, and the list of 696 hymns he wrote is astounding - not only the quantity of them, but that 250 years later many of these are still being sung - When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, Not All the Blood of Beasts, We're Marching to Zion and I'm Not Ashamed to Own My Lord to name but a few. The clip below is also from YouTube, however it seems to have been taken from a tv programme and has an editing blip at the start: