Scripture Verse

To the place the streams come from, there they return again. Ecclesiastes 1:7


Alfred Tennyson

Words: Al­fred Ten­ny­son, 1889. He wrote this po­em as he crossed the sea on a fer­ry to his home on the Isle of Wight.

Music: Jo­seph Barn­by, 1893 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Joseph Barnby

This work puts Ten­ny­son’s fa­mous po­em to mu­sic. With the shift­ing me­ter and im­ag­es, it was quite a chal­lenge, but Barn­by did a mar­ve­lous job.

The se­lec­tion is prob­ab­ly bet­ter suit­ed for choir per­for­mance than con­gre­ga­tion­al use, but it has a love­ly theme. The words re­fer to a sand­bar in the Thames Ri­ver, over which ships could not pass un­til high tide.

Me­ta­phor­ic­al­ly, it des­cribes how there is a sched­uled time for each of us to go. Writ­ten in Ten­ny­son’s twi­light years, it states with calm as­sur­ance that God will guide us through death, as He has in life. With the great Pi­lot be­side us, death is just one more mil­epost on our journey to­ward life.


Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar
When I put out to sea.

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam.
When that which drew from the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell
When I embark.

For, though from out our bourne of time and place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.