Billy Graham Brings Christmas Spirit

Billy GrahamA Christmas visit by Evangelist Billy Graham highlighted the ship's stay in Yokosuka. Japan. Mr. Graham talks with BM1 Snipes (XMAA) in the hangar bay of Coral Sea during his visit to the ship.

A welcome break from duty on the line in the South China Sea from December 12 to December 26 of 1968 afforded Coral Sea to make a ports of call Yokosuka, Japan and Sasebo, Japan. It was a blessing to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in port at Sasebo, Japan. We got underway back to the line in the South China Sea December 26. Operations in Japanese waters throughout this period gave Coral Sea sailors time to reflect on more spiritual things other than the usual business of an attack aircraft carrier going about her assigned duty of implementing the hardest edge of US diplomacy. Other things like, for example the Navy Hymn.

United States Navy Hymn

The original words were written as a poem in 1860 by William Whiting of Winchester, England, for a student who was about to sail for the United States. The melody, published in 1861, was composed by fellow Englishman, Rev. John Bacchus Dykes, an Episcopalian clergyman. In 1879, Lieutenant Commander Charles Jackson Train was a navigation instructor at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis and the master of the Midshipman Choir. Train began the practice of concluding Divine Services with the 1861 version of the hymn every Sunday, whereby it eventually became an academy, and then a service-wide, tradition, becoming known as the Navy Hymn.

Storm on the Sea of Galilee
The Storm on the Sea of Galilee
by Rembrandt van Rijn

Eternal Father, Strong to Save

In all there are four verses of the hymn. The original hymn exclusively focused on seafarers. In 1940 verses two and three where changed by the U.S. Episcopal Church to include travel on land (verse 2) and air (verse 3). You can view or download these verse changes.

Several additional or variant verses are in use in the U.S. military services, including the Marines, Seabees, submariners and Coast Guard.