Sabbath Morning at Sea

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"Sabbath Morning at Sea" is a poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning first published in 1839, which Sir Edward Elgar set to music in 1899 as the third song in his song-cycle Sea Pictures. [1]


Sabbath Morning at Sea by Elgar.jpg

The ship went on with solemn face;
   To meet the darkness on the deep,
      The solemn ship went onward.
I bowed down weary in the place;
   For parting tears and present sleep
      Had weighed mine eyelids downward.

The new sight, the new wondrous sight!
   The waters around me, turbulent,
      The skies, impassive o'er me,
Calm in a moonless, sunless light,
   As glorified by even the intent
      Of holding the day glory!

Love me, sweet friends, this Sabbath day.
   The sea sings round me while ye roll
      Afar the hymn, unaltered,
And kneel, where once I knelt to pray,
   And bless me deeper in your soul
      Because your voice has faltered.

And though this sabbath comes to me
   Without the stolèd minister,
      And chanting congregation,
God's Spirit shall give comfort. He
   Who brooded soft on waters drear,
      Creator on creation.

He shall assist me to look higher,
 Where keep the saints, with harp and song,
      An endless sabbath morning,
      And, on that sea commixed with fire,
 Oft drop their eyelids raised too long
      To the full Godhead's burning.

Elgar's setting[edit]

The opening reintroduces the oceanic theme from Sea Slumber Song. Several lines in the last stanza are repeated. At "And on that sea commixed with fire" the opening bars of the song cycle are quoted. [2]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Beales, Brendan Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Concert Programme for performance at the Royal Albert Hall 6 April 2008