Let me explain (updated 1/22/2018): at General Assembly in Louisville in 2013, despite terrible cell reception, many attendees endeavored to live tweet the events as they unfolded. On Friday morning, we sang Blue Boat Home. Friend and colleague Hannah Roberts made a comment to her friend Meredith Lukow, who tweeted:
… because like “Freebird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, it is a popular song that people longed to hear, often requested, and reacted to in a kind of rock-anthem awe. The joke spread like wildfire, being retweeted and remarked upon throughout the days. On Sunday morning, Bill Schultz preached about the earth and its inhabitants, and as he finished (to great applause), the band began playing this song. To which Twitter – and more than a few voices in the room – shouted “FREEBIRD!” and more than a few hands in the room held up their hands as though holding a lighter. It was an hysterically transcendent moment.
Which is not surprising, because it is a beautifully transcendent song.
Peter Mayer wrote these gorgeous lyrics to the gorgeous Hyfrodol tune, but he also recast the tune a bit. It’s still in the same meter (3/4), but guitar strums turned to piano notation makes it feel more like 6/8, which makes it feel as rolling and pulsing as the ocean itself. He also extends the final phrase, giving space and room for “blue…. boat… home” to breathe and fill us with wonder.
Though below me, I feel no motion standing on these mountains and plains.
Far away from the rolling ocean still my dry land heart can say:
I’ve been sailing all my life now, never harbor or port have I known.
The wide universe is the ocean I travel and the earth is my blue boat home.
Sun my sail and moon my rudder as I ply the starry sea,
leaning over the edge in wonder, casting questions into the deep.
Drifting here with my ship’s companions, all we kindred pilgrim souls,
making our way by the lights of the heavens in our beautiful blue boat home.
I give thanks to the waves up holding me, hail the great winds urging me on,
greet the infinite sea before me, sing the sky my sailor’s song:
I was born up on the fathoms, never harbor or port have I known.
The wide universe is the ocean I travel, and the earth is my blue boat home.
Really, there is nothing bad to say about this one, except maybe that we can’t use it all the time. Mayer gorgeously captures the awe and wonder of our first source, and the amazing planetary grounding of our seventh principle, along with mysticism and humanism and gratitude.
Really. What a gorgeous song.
A short programming note: After today, I have only ten…TEN! hymns left. We’re in the home stretch! On the 11th day, I will write some sort of summary post, and then I’ll take a short sabbatical from daily writing while I figure out what’s next.