Throw Out the Life Line

Throw out the lifeline! Throw out the lifeline!
   Someone is drifting away;
Throw out the lifeline! Throw out the lifeline!
   Someone is sinking today.

It is possible that you’ve noticed the “Random Number Generator” on the sidebar. It’s a nifty little tool that could be used in juvenile gambling, and is also how this hymn was selected. There will be times when arbitrary is the rule, at least around here. I’m not about to discount God’s divine will in pointing me to a particular hymn despite my best efforts to be random. In fact, I would welcome it.

This hymn was written by Edward S. Ufford in 1894. Little is known about this man as far as I can tell, though he wrote dozens of hymns during his lifetime. From going through the list of songs he penned, it doesn’t seem that he wrote anything that’s familiar to me. Everything that I can find says that this was his most well known work, and before now, I’ve never heard of it so far as I can remember.

We’re likely all familiar with the metaphor of throwing the life line of Christ to those lost and drowning in their sins. And yes, if they don’t get a grasp on the ring and find themselves pulled into the boat, they will die in their sins and never meet us at that beautiful shore. However, I wonder if sometimes we look down our nose at those still in the water. I’ve been guilty of it. Let us never forget that had someone not thrown us the buoy, we’d be drowning and on our way not to Davy Jones’ Locker, but an eternal damnation in a literal hell. Praise God that He saw fit to pull me from the water!

This interpretation could be considered two separate works. There is the larger piece, which doesn’t follow any sort of poetic rules or design. The latter part could almost be a stand-alone stanza to the original work. I’m not sure I can consider them two parts of the same work, so we’ll pretend that they are two separate interpretations of the same hymn. Confused yet? I’m getting there.

Darkness, black as the soul of man, has washed over the sea.
The hand before your face is a shadow, at best.
The tempest rages, the ship is tossed.
And yet, what’s this?

A man! Could it be? Tossed in the waves!
Row! As if his life depends on it!
Surely it does. How could it be?
How he yet lives is what we’re asking;
Not that it matters if he stays off the boat.

Ahoy there! Grab hold!
Take the buoy, and cling for your life!
If not for this ring, your life is surely lost;
This moment is all you have left.

Pull! Get him aboard! Who knows what he’s been through?
We must, at all cost, preserve our brother.
Do all that you can, else his blood be on your hands!
Only he can hold the buoy, but he must have the chance.

And now the added bit. Doesn’t totally fit, but it struck me, so I’m posting it.

It wasn’t so distant that I was in the sea;
Tossed like a doll in the spray.
But Christ, my buoy, was thrown out to me,
And life was found new on that day.

View the original in its entirety here.

1 Comment

  1. Shawna Tribelhorn

    Loved it, keep ’em coming!


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