Following upon its trumpeted success in producing the 2010 Winter Olympics, Vancouver was selected as the site for the international debut of the new “Anthem for Seafarers”, its origin being the well known hymn, “Eternal Father strong to save”. This new piece of music was commissioned by The Baltic Exchange, headquartered in London, to commemorate the International Maritime Organization’s proclaimed “Year of the Seafarer”. Its première was at Christ Church Cathedral on November 17th as part of a Service to the Seafarer.
Michael Drayton, former Chairman of The Baltic Exchange, initiated the commissioning of the music. “The combination of my regard for seafarers and my love of music formed the basis for this project,” stated Mr. Drayton. “Malcolm Archer has taken this great seafaring hymn, its wording such a powerful reminder of the perils at sea, and given us an anthem that moves from the sombre reflection of its opening key to a glorious centre section. Here we will all recognise the famous hymn and its plea for the security and protection of our mariners. Malcolm is to be commended for this masterful work which I hope will be adopted throughout the seafaring world.”
According to composer Malcolm Archer: “For many years I had wanted to compose an anthem version of the text 'Eternal Father, strong to save' when Michael Drayton, approached me with just such a commission for dedication to the Exchange and to mark his retirement as Chairman. It also seemed appropriate that I should set these words to music since the author of them, William Whiting (1825-1878), was Master of the Quiristers at Winchester College, a position which I now hold as their Choirmaster. With that strong link the anthem is assured of performances within the College and it is my sincere hope that it will not only be performed regularly for The Baltic Exchange but become a popular choice amongst the many seafaring communities around the world."
Under the direction of Christ Church Cathedral’s choir master, Rupert Lang, the new anthem was the centerpiece of a Service to the Seafarer being held as part of a World Maritime Day Observance in Vancouver. The International Maritime Organization designated 2010 as “The Year of the Seafarer”.