Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me

Jesus, Savior, pilot me
Over life’s tempestuous sea;
Unknown waves before me roll,
Hiding rock and treach’rous shoal.
Chart and compass come from Thee.
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

As a mother stills her child,
Thou canst hush the ocean wild;
Boist’rous waves obey Thy will
When Thou sayest to them, “Be still!”
Wondrous Sovereign of the sea,
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

When at last I near the shore,
And the fearful breakers roar
‘Twixt me and the peaceful rest,
Then, while leaning on Thy breast,
May I hear Thee say to me,
“Fear not– I will pilot thee!”

What’s on the playlist for your life right now?

During the fall of 2020, my son and I would get out of the house for him to practice driving and accrue the requisite hours for him to get his driver’s license. On those journeys, we would listen to a playlist he created for me—a diverse list of songs he enjoys that I learned to enjoy, along with a few of my favorites from days gone by. There was nothing remarkable about that time other than the rise and swell of my anxiety with him behind the wheel, but those trips hold indelible memories for me. When I hear those songs, I am taken back to the precious moments we shared in the car, the conversations we had, and the songs that accompanied us along the way.

Music is an immeasurable gift that helps us see and know God in profound and life giving ways. In sound and silence, rhythm and melody, dissonance and harmony, music can embody our relationship with God.

The Israelites turned to the Psalms to sing and pray in all seasons of their lives. Their songs touched nearly every imaginable experience of life and sought to find God’s presence with them in those places. We turn to music for its power to connect us to the depths of our soul and give voice when words are not enough. Music gives us space to sing alone or lift in community our petitions to God. Music animates the work of our faith.

I remember the first time I heard an arrangement of Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me sung by the University Choir. It was Founders Day, 2011. I knew it as the hymn J.A. Campbell chose for students to sing on that day back in 1887, and one we still sing to celebrate and remember Founders Week. But on that day I heard the words differently. The music touched me deeply with the reality that sometimes life feels like a raging sea. I heard those words of faith and trust of “Jesus, pilot me” in a new way. Words of assurance and hope resonated with the promise of God, “Fear not, I will pilot thee.”

I am glad J.A. Campbell invited those first students to sing and I am grateful for the gift of music. I pray whatever the playlist of your life sounds like right now, you will hear the steady beat of God’s presence and loving desire to be chart and compass for you for whatever may come.