Saturday, April 7, 2012

Passover & Easter


Protect me, my Lord, my boat is so small; your sea is so big.
-- Breton Fisherman's Prayer

Heathen that I am, I almost missed that it's Passover and Easter this weekend. Nautical superstition says that to begin a sea voyage on a Friday is bad luck, as Christ was said to have been crucified on a Friday. On the other hand, Sunday is a good day to ship out, reflecting the "good news" of Christ's resurrection. In today's maritime community, the beginning of spring marks the beginning of boating or yachting season and, in my part of the world at least, the first cruise ships heading to Alaska in the wake of the commercial cod fleet. Fair winds and following seas to all, and here's a collection of prayers holy and profane from many faiths to send you on your way.

They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end. Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.
-- Psalms, 107:23-30, The Bible
It is He who enables you to travel on land and sea until, when you are in ships and they sail with them by a good wind and they rejoice therein, there comes a storm wind and the waves come upon them from everywhere and they assume that they are surrounded, supplicating Allah , sincere to Him in religion, "If You should save us from this, we will surely be among the thankful."
-- Verse (10:22) of chapter (10) sūrat yūnus (Jonah), The Koran
 "Gods, who delight in preserving bold ships and turning from them the perils of windy seas, make smooth and placid these waters, and attend with good council my vows, let not my words be drowned out by roaring waves as I pray:
"O Neptune, grand and rare is the pledge we make to You, and in what we commend into the depths of the sea. Young Maecius it is whose body we commit to the sea, far from the sight of land, that he, the better part of our souls, traverses the sea’s length and depth (to the Western Lands).
"Bring forth the benign stars, the Spartan brothers, Castor and Pollux, to sit upon the horns of the yard arm. Let your light illuminate sea and sky. Drive off your sister Helen’s stormy star, I pray, and expel it from all the heavens.
"And you azure Nereids of the seas, whose good fortune it was to attain mastery of the oceans – may it be allowed to name you stars of the seas – rise up from your glassy caverns near the foaming waves that encircle Doris, and tranquilly swim circles around the shores of Baiae where the hot springs abound. Seek after the lofty ship on which a noble descendant of Ausonians, Celer, mighty at arms, is glad to embark. Not long will you need to look, for she lately came across the sea, leading a convoy laden with Egyptian wheat and bound for Dicarcheis. First was she to salute Capreae and from her starboard side offer a libation of Mareotic wine to Tyrrhenian Minerva. Near to her, on either side, circle gracefully around her. Divide your labors, some to tighten fast the rigging from masts to deck, while others high above spread forth canvass sails to the westerly Zephyrs. Still others replace some benches, others send into the water the rudder by whose curved blade steers the ship. Another plumbs the depths with leaden weights while others to fasten the skiff that follows astern, and to dive down and drag the hooked anchor from the depths, and one to control the tides and make the sea flow eastward. Let none of the sea green sisterhood be without her task.
"Then let Proteus of manifold shape and triformed Triton swim before, and Glaucus whose loins vanished by sudden enchantment, and who, so oft as he glides up to his native shores, wistfully beats his fish tail on Anthedon’s strand.
"And may the father whose Aeolian prison constrains the winds, whom the various blasts obey, and every air that stirs on the world’s seas, and storms and cloudy tempests, keep the North wind and South and East in closer custody behind his wall of mountain, but may Zephyr alone have the freedom of the sky, alone drive vessels onward and skim unceasingly over the crests of billows, until he brings without a storm your glad sails safe to the Paraetonian haven."
-- Roman poet Publius Papinius Statius (1st Century AD), Silvae 3.2.1-49
O, MIGHTY NEPTUNE! Hear an honest British Tar -- thou knowest I trouble not thy Godship every day, I therefore pray thee to grant my prayer, for I love not long palavering and that there, d'ye see.
-- Sailor's Prayer



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