Saturday, 22 June 2013

Peace in the Storm - Dedicated to the Flood Victims in Southern Alberta

First of all, I want to say that my thoughts and prayers are with the flood victims in southern Alberta. Check here for videos: Global News Calgary. It's devastating. 
As I was watching one of the many videos, I thought of the hymn, "Master the Tempest is Raging" by Mary A. Baker. Here are the lyrics:
  1. Master, the tempest is raging!
    The billows are tossing high!
    The sky is o’ershadowed with blackness,
    No shelter or help is nigh;
    Carest Thou not that we perish?
    How canst Thou lie asleep,
    When each moment so madly is threat’ning
    A grave in the angry deep?
    • Refrain:
      The winds and the waves shall obey Thy will,
      Peace, be still!
      Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea,
      Or demons or men, or whatever it be,
      No waters can swallow the ship where lies
      The Master of ocean, and earth, and skies;
      They all shall sweetly obey Thy will,
      Peace, be still! Peace, be still!
      They all shall sweetly obey Thy will,
      Peace, peace, be still!
  2. Master, with anguish of spirit
    I bow in my grief today;
    The depths of my sad heart are troubled—
    Oh, waken and save, I pray!
    Torrents of sin and of anguish
    Sweep o’er my sinking soul;
    And I perish! I perish! dear Master—
    Oh, hasten, and take control.
  3. Master, the terror is over,
    The elements sweetly rest;
    Earth’s sun in the calm lake is mirrored,
    And heaven’s within my breast;
    Linger, O blessed Redeemer!
    Leave me alone no more;
    And with joy I shall make the blest harbor,
    And rest on the blissful shore.
 It's based on the story found in Mark 4:35-41 (NIV):

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” 

While I very much appreciate the message of this hymn, I don't feel the music is the most appropriate. The whole thing is a little too syrupy for a song about tempest, storm and fear. There needs to be a greater contrast between the music for the verse - about the tempest - and the chorus - about peace. Here's an orchestral arrangement that more nearly accomplishes what I'd like to see done with the music:
Regardless, the message is still a good one. While Jesus may not keep us from trials and troubles, He still rides through the storm with us, and gives us inner peace in the midst of these trials.