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