THERE’S NO DIRECT CONNECTION between my family and the terrible 15th of April disaster 106 years ago, the memory of which lives on in the minds of many people around the world even today. But on that fateful day, Sir Robert Price was the Member of Parliament for East Norfolk in England. That worthy gentleman had a remarkable dream about the tragic event in which a version of Nearer, My God to Thee! came to him as he imagined himself to be going down with the great ship. “I had attended a memorial service,” said Sir Robert to a Press reporter, “and went home much affected by the service. I went to sleep and dreamt that I was a passenger on the Titanic as she went down. It was terribly vivid. As I felt myself going down I prayed….
“I awoke with a start,” continued Sir Robert, “and when I had collected my thoughts I put down the words of my dream – not all of them, for there were several verses that I could not remember. I am not a hymn-writer nor a maker of verses, and so this remarkable version (of the hymn) appears to be all the more miraculous.”
Sir Robert’s words (three verses actually shown below) had such an impression on my grandmother, Rose Ziadine Akmal – a composer who was born in London, trained in England and Europe, and settled at the time with her family in Durban, South Africa – that she immediately set them to music and wrote to Sir Robert, asking for permission to use his verses. That being granted, the stirring composition, bearing the same title as the hymn, was published in 1912 by International Music Publishing Co. in South Africa. The opening page of Rose’s deeply felt work (for voice and piano) I’ve included below:
[August 14, 1953 – June 22, 2015]
Horner was a prolific composer of film music, which includes the score for the blockbuster picture Titanic’s famous song sung by Celine Dion: My Heart Will Go On.
For the record, James was raised in London and started piano lessons when he was five and trained as a musician at the Royal College of Music, which incidentally was my wife, Lolita’s alma mater.
On This Day Website, Encyclopedia Titanica
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Copyright © 2018 Azim Lewis Mayadas