Sunday, 29 June 2014

A hymn for "boat people"

O God of mercy, at whose call
the ocean waters rise and fall,
protect the people on the sea
who from oppression seek to flee.
O hear us as our prayers we speak
for those who safe asylum seek.

They come from lands where tyrants reign
to seek a refuge from their pain.
They look to us to give them scope
to build a life of peace and hope.
O hear us as our prayers we speak
for those who safe asylum seek.

Yet politicians mock their plight
and commentators whip up fright.
Now let their noise and lies depart:
convert each demagogic heart!
O hear us as our prayers we speak
for those who safe asylum seek.

God bless this nation, “girt by sea”,
with broader hospitality.  
May gen’rous hearts around this land
obey with love your great command.
O hear us as our prayers we speak
for those who safe asylum seek.

Robert J. Faser, 29th June 2014
Tune:  Melita, 88.88.88

I wrote this hymn in response to news reports of a boat of asylum seekers being in distress off the coast of Christmas Island and of the inaction of the government in response to this tragedy-in-the-making. The inaction of the government is all the more tragic, given the prominence in the current government of politicians who wear their Christian faith on their sleeves.

I wrote it with the hymn “Eternal Father, strong to save ...” (Together in Song, 138) in mind, with the repeated refrain: “O hear us as we cry to Thee / for those in peril on the sea.” As a result, the hymn is written with the tune Melita in mind.

While I write this hymn as a Christian, I’ve deliberately written it as a hymn that can be sung with integrity by Christians, Jews, Muslims, and other people of faith.

This hymn is available free-of-charge to any congregation, denomination, ecumenical gathering, or interfaith gathering who wishes to use it in worship, particularly in a service focusing on our response as people of faith to asylum seekers.


  1. Thank you. A very necessary hymn, away from jargon but focussed on a real situation.

  2. Well said Rob. As a Christian I feel very disappointed of the many believers of Christ who refuse to be a leaning shoulder to out brothers and sisters in need.
    Would you please allow me to publish this on my website? I think it's very powerful
    Alphonse Mulumba

    1. Yes, Alphonse, please publish this on your website. Best wishes, Bob.

  3. Actually the three words 'girt by sea' are a reminder of our situation of being surrounded by sea so that people DO come by boat (or plane of course). And now there are another 40,000 treking through Turkey so what are we doing about that?


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