Sunday, April 15, 2012

Nearer my God to Thee

Today is the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic on April 15, 1912. On this day the so-called unsinkable ship collided with an iceberg with the loss of over 1500 lives in the early hours of the morning. Only 710 passengers and crew were rescued.

The sinking of the Titanic is an epic story of mistakes, error and misjudgement, including missing binoculars, insufficient lifeboats, and foolhardy navigation in known iceberg waters. It is a story of loss and rescue, fear and courage on a cold still night one hundred years ago.

One of those who went down with the ship was Wallace Hartley, band leader on RMS Titanic. The bravery of Wallace Hartley and the band whilst they played on as the ship sank is legendary. After the collision they played ragtime music. The hymn Nearer my God to Thee has long been associated with Hartley and his band as the last hymn the band played.

Hartley was raised in Bethel Independent Methodist Chapel in Colne, Lancashire. It was there that his choirmaster father introduced this moving hymn to the congregation. For Wallace Hartley, death was not the end, but the doorway to eternal life. Some 40,000 people lined the streets for his funeral.

Wallace Hartley was one of a number of Methodists who acted courageously in desperate circumstances over the years. Another is South Australian Methodist leader Daniel Draper who called out to fellow passengers to “make for the port of heaven” during the sinking of the steamship London in 1854, accompanied by singing the hymn Rock of Ages.

When a mine accident trapped men and boys deep underground in 1880, Primitive Methodist Richard Cole stepped to the fore. He ministered as a “dying man to dying men” during the Seaham colliery disaster, when 164 men and boys perished. He wrote in chalk that “every man was ready for glory” after they had had a prayer meeting.

As for me, I know not when or how my last day will come. But this I know, in the words of an old hymn, “Redeeming love shall be my theme until the day I die”.

Related posts
Daniel Draper
Every man ready for glory

Other links
Did faith drive the Titanic musicians?

Nearer my God to Thee
Rock of Ages
There is a fountain filled with blood

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Responding to the New Atheism

This weekend in Melbourne, The 2012 Global Atheist Convention, A Celebration of Reason, will host authors Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and others, the champions of the so-called 'new atheism'. It will be the biggest ever atheist event in Australia’s history.

Already the TV debate between Cardinal George Pell and Richard Dawkins on QandA has sparked significant interest. How should Christians respond to the celebration of Atheism?

Here is one option: Come on Sunday 15 April 7:30pm to Federation Square to take part in


Can you handle the truth?

The night will feature Ben Price, Australia’s best impersonator, who will be doing a comedy routine and sharing his personal story of faith in God. And also ‘Compliments of Gus’, one of Australia’s premier Christian bands.

In addition, there will be several other powerful faith stories, including that of an ex-Marxist/Atheist who is now the pastor of a large and vibrant church in Melbourne, as well as an ex-drug runner for a renowned Australian drug lord.