JESUS, SAVIOR, PILOT ME written in 1871
Edward Hopper (1822-1888), the writer of this hymn, was born in New York City, went to school at New York University and Union Theological Seminary (both in New York City), and spend his whole life ministering in churches in New York City (except for 11 years when he served in a church on Long Island).
Edward’s favorite ministry was a small church near New York Harbor called The Church of the Sea and Land. It was a ministry to sailors who used the harbor. Edward was a quiet and humble man, hardly the type you would think would effectively minister to boisterous men of the sea. You can see the obvious nautical theme of this hymn.
Most of Edward’s hymns were written, and then published anonymously. He didn’t admit to writing this hymn until 7 years after it was published in The Sailor’s Magazine. John Edgar Gould had seen the poem, and wrote the music to accompany it… but Hopper was unaware of Gould’s contribution. In 1878, Edward was asked to write a poem for the anniversary of the Seaman’s Friend Society. He brought the words to “Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me” to the meeting, only to find that a number of the people already knew the poem––and the music! It was only then that people learned that Hopper was the author.
At Edward’s funeral, he was eulogized as entering the heavenly port, “safely piloted by that never-failing friend, Jesus, whose divine voice was still tenderly whispering to him, ‘Fear not, I will pilot thee.’”
While written with sailors in mind, “Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me” speaks to all of us, because we are all in need of guidance as we make our way through this life.
Read this hymn, and – today – trust Jesus to pilot you throughout your day.
Jesus, Savior, pilot me over life’s tempestuous sea;
unknown waves before me roll, hiding rock and treacherous shoal.
Chart and compass come from Thee; Jesus, Savior, pilot me.
While th’ Apostles’ fragile bark struggled with the billows dark,
on the stormy Galilee, Thou didst walk upon the sea;
and when they beheld Thy form, safe they glided through the storm.
Though the sea be smooth and bright, sparkling with the stars of night,
and my ship’s path be ablaze with the light of halcyon days,
still I know my need of Thee; Jesus, Savior, pilot me.
When the darkling heavens frown, and the wrathful winds come down,
and the fierce waves, tossed on high, lash themselves against the sky,
Jesus, Savior, pilot me, over life’s tempestuous sea.
As a mother stills her child, Thou canst hush the ocean wild;
boisterous waves obey Thy will, when Thou sayest to them, “Be still!”
Wondrous Sovereign of the sea, Jesus, Savior, pilot me.
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.”