When RMS Titanic sank a little after 2 AM on April 15, 1912, the legend has become that the last piece of music played by the orchestra was the hymn, "Nearer my God, to Thee". But WHICH tune was it that the band played? IF they played it!
With having had the opportunity to record and upload our member, Dominik Kruppa's setting, it got me to thinking. Actually, I've been a student of the Titanic for years, and being a musician, and an organist on top of that, I've always wondered what "version" hymn was played.
The junior radio opera, Jack Bride, said that the last tune the band played was not the hymn, but a popular waltz tune named "Autumn". Apparently secular tunes were named then, much as we still name hymntunes.
This performance features the 4 "leading candidates" for the "Hymn of the Occasion".
The first is probably the most likely, Lowell Mason's (1792-1872) "Bethany". This is followed by John B. Dykes' lovely and rarely heard, "Horbury". This one is oh-so-English, and was featured in the 1950's movie, "A night to remember", which expert's tell us that in many ways, this is still the most "accurate" film account. The third tune is Arthur Sullivan's (1842-1900), "Propior Deo". This one would have been known to a lot of the wealthy, American, Epsicopalians, but probably not the tune. The fourth and last tune is named "Autumn" (not the waltz tune) and is ascribed to Francois H. Barthelemon (1741-1808). It's a stirring tune in the vigorous, "Methodist style".
I've played the 4 of these without "interruption", although you'll have to wait out the 10-12 seconds of echo... ;-)
My pick? The last one, "Autumn". Imagine this being sung by 5,000 people...
These hymns also serve another purpose!
Soon, I will have a new article on "The Barde" dealing with inspiring and creative hymn-playing, so, I hope you will read it and comment.