Our friends may remember that in the February issue of The Etude we published an editorial upon the miraculous power of music as a comforter. We declared that the highest office of music is to take away the griefs of life. We tried to show that music is the great anodyne of the world. We had not dreamed that in a few months we were to confront a grim exemplification or this thought.
With the sinking of the Titanic, sixteen hundred lives were sacrificed to the greed for useless luxury and needless speed. Fate sneered at the highest achievement of man who sought dominion on the seas. The heroism of those who lost their lives is a monument to the valor of all who believe in the high ideals of the Anglo-Saxon race.
We feel that we cannot pass this time without joining with our readers in a tribute to that little band of musicians which kept on playing, true to their duty, until the dark waters closed over them. Not one of the band was saved. If you ever thought that musicians were not to be classed with men of bravery, reflect upon that unthinkable night of April 14th, 1912.
The valor of those men who gave their souls to cheer the dying had in it the true sacrifice of the Christ spirit. No scene more tragic, more heroic, more inspiring can be found in the history of all time. The night was starlit. The sea was calm. The small boats were moving away from the great ship. Above the cries and moans of the weak came the sound of the band playing a hymn. That was something more than mere heroism. Such courage in the face of utter helplessness was the noblest manifestation of the divine in man. Can we ever conceive what that music must have meant to those on that boat during the last few hideous moments?
Here then, are the names of the eight men who took part in the saddest requiem of all time. At that moment the world found a new regard for those who follow the profession of music. This little group rose from the rank and file of ordinary musicians to become the world’s highest types of heroes. May their names be kept shining forever in the annals of human bravery.
In memoriam let us repeat the last lines of the hymn Autumn, said to have been chosen by the much-loved journalist and educator, W.T. Stead, just before the Titanic sank to its grave two miles below.
Hold me up in mighty waters,
Keep mine eyes on things above—
Righteousness, divine atonement,
Peace and everlasting love.
THE ETUDE MUSIC MAGAZINE – June 1912