Faith on the Decks of the Titanic
Tony Carnes, Christianity Today senior writer and founder of A Journey Through NYC Religions writes about the sinking of the Titanic:
In every large tragedy New Yorkers' religious faith has been a key element in the city's perseverance and recovery....
As we come to the 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912, we thought that it would be useful to remind ourselves of the role that religious faith has had during the catastrophe and, in the aftermath, of its impact on New York City's moral culture. We have excerpted British poet and songwriter Steve Turner's The Band That Played On The extraordinary story of the 8 musicians who went down with the Titanic. Turner has made frequent appearances at art gatherings here in the city. In addition to the Titanic book, Turner has written an extraordinarily good book on Johnny Cash.
On the evening of April 18th in the New York Evening World Carlos F. Hurd wrote the first article with eyewitness accounts of the sinking of Titanic: "The ship's string band gathered in the saloon, near the end, and played ‘Nearer, My God, to Thee."
[Band leader Wallace Hartley] apparently believed that music could be more powerful than physical force in bringing order to chaos. John Carr, the Celtic bandsman, had played on ships with Hartley, and in April 1912 told The New York Times: "I don't suppose he waited to be sent for, but after finding how dangerous the situation was he probably called his men together and began playing. I know that he often said that music was a bigger weapon for stopping disorder than anything on earth. He knew the value of the weapon he had, and I think he proved his point."
All the band members had been raised as churchgoers—Bricoux, Krins, and Clarke as Catholics, Hume as a Congregationalist, Woodward and Hartley as Methodists, Brailey and Taylor as Anglicans. Harley and Taylor had sung in choirs, and Hume played his violin in church.
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