We’ve had a sailor who didn’t make it home, the revelries of those Newfoundland fishermen who did make it back home and, today, a post about someone who almost lost his life but survived the crossing from Newfoundland and went on to do great philanthropic deeds over there. He was Samuel Codner.
The poem commemorates the 30th anniversary of his survival following the capsizing of the Mercury on its journey back from Newfoundland to Teignmouth. The commemoration is actually in the form of a print of a Thomas Luny picture with the poem combined within the frame. A copy can be seen at the Royal Maritime Museum in Greenwich.
For more information follow the link at the end of the poem. It’s not clear but I am assuming that the poem was actually written by Samuel Codner to give thanks for his survival.
It has no title so I’ve simply called it “The Mercury”.
O Lord! This day recalls to mind
Thy mercy and thy power
Which drove the Ship before the wind
In an eventful hour
She drifts and then the hull is brine
No sail assists her course
She mounts the waves and tempest-torn
For hours resists its force.
Sudden she slips and prostrate lies,
The masts concealed from view.
The Seaman’s skill the storm defies
While cling the trembling crew.
The Bowsprit goes, the Foremast then
Next Mizzenmast is broke
Maintopmast severed, Oh what pen
Can tell each thundering stroke.
All hope is fled, each wave that rolls
Seems fraught with instant death
But He whose power the sea controls
Preserves their fainting breath
The Lord appeared in danger’s hour
The Mainmast sudden broke
The ship then righted by His power
Withholding deaths fell stroke.
Lord of the waves our hearts inspire
With praise for mercies given!
A soul then saved from vengeance dire
Thou didst design for Heaven.
That soul thus rescued from the wave
Christ’s tender mercy sought
This Servant preached His will to save
The truth with power was fraught.
The heart was drawn to feel the word
That grace was freely given.
Rebellion’s arm threw down the sword,
Love ope’d the gates of Heaven
The faith and hope which then were gained,
Twice twenty years have hied,
And peace and joy through grace attained,
Assured the Lord will guide.
Want to know more? Check out:
Samuel Codner …..
Note: The painting title says:
Written May 16th, The Thirtieth Anniversary of Samuel Codner’s Preservation from Shipwreck on Board the Ship Mercury Lat: 49° 30’ N., Lon: 13° W. The Ship turned on her beam ends at 7.15PM and remained in that situation twenty five minutes.
For me there is some confusion about the year. I have found a reference suggesting “She was sailing from St. John’s, the provincial capital of Newfoundland, Canada, to England in 1822 when the disaster occurred.” which doesn’t correspond with the 30th anniversary. More research needed I think!