“The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald”
“The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the skies of November turn gloomy
With a load of iron ore twenty-six thousand tons more
Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty
That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed
When the gales of November came early
The ship was the pride of the American side
Coming back from some mill in Wisconsin
As the big freighters go, it was bigger than most
With a crew and good captain well seasoned
Concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms
When they left fully loaded for Cleveland
Then later that night when the ship’s bell rang
Could it be the north wind they’d been feelin’?
The wind in the wires made a tattle-tale sound
When the wave broke over the railing
And every man knew, as the captain did too
‘Twas the witch of November come stealin’
The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait
When the gales of November came slashin’
When afternoon came it was freezing rain
In the face of a hurricane west wind
When suppertime came, the old cook came on deck
Sayin’ “Fellas, it’s too rough to feed ya”
At seven PM a main hatchway caved in
He said, “Fellas, it’s been good to know ya”
The captain wired in he had water comin’ in
And the good ship and crew was in peril
And later that night when his lights went out of sight
Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
Does anyone know where the love of God goes
When the waves turn the minutes to hours?
The searchers all say they’d have made Whitefish Bay
If they’d put fifteen more miles behind her
They might have split up or they might have capsized
They may have broke deep and took water
And all that remains is the faces and the names
Of the wives and the sons and the daughters
Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings
In the rooms of her ice-water mansion
Old Michigan steams like a young man’s dreams
The islands and bays are for sportsmen
And farther below, Lake Ontario
Takes in what Lake Erie can send her
And the iron boats go as the mariners all know
With the gales of November remembered
In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed
In the Maritime Sailors’ Cathedral
The church bell chimed ’til it rang twenty-nine times
For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee
Superior, they said, never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early”
(All lyrics belong to Gordon Lightfoot, Edmund Fitzgerald, 1976)
I am deeply touched today by the thought of the Edmund Fitzgerald, the fact of 29 lives cut short, and the thought of the freezing cold fear those men must have felt that evening 40 years ago tonight. It also is a song which I remember hearing many times during my junior high and high school years. At that time I really didn’t know much. but just knew there was a shipwreck.
The lines that strike me the most are “Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours?” Well, I sure can’t answer that, except to say that I believe God allows bad things to happen to good people and we can’t comprehend that. Sin entered the world and it happens. We all die. But he does love us, and he loved those men and their families. He was holding them in their fear in their last minutes, I am SURE of that.
As the icy waves encapsulated them, the warm hands of Jesus would shelter them if they just called His name.
I pray that they felt the closeness of God in their last moments of life. I watched a video today about the wreck, and noticed that the men were from 20 years of age all the way up to 63. I can only imagine what they went through in those freezing cold waters of Lake Superior. Trying to wrap my head around how violent it can get out there…80 mile an hour winds and 25 foot waves…that’s a hurricane. Very sad for the families, but we can only hope they had friends and other family to surround them in their sorrow.
The other part of the song which touches me is, “The church bell chimed ’till it rang twenty-nine times for each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald.” People got together to pray. They trusted, and gave the outcome to God the Father. They surrendered. They hoped. They didn’t get what they had prayed for, but I can only hope that they came to peace. Sometimes we can’t understand why we don’t get what we want when we pray. But it’s a surrender to the great I AM.
My hope is that we pray more. we pray to the Holy Spirit of God. We turn our hearts to Him. We stand up when others may not stand with us. Times are going to get hard like the ice water mansion of the Superior. Will you be ready to say “I trust Jesus?”
When icy winds blow will I say, “I trust Jesus!”
I thank God that Gordon Lightfoot wrote this song after the wreck, 40 years ago today. It makes us remember, and I will always have this song in my head. Some are too young to remember the wreck or the song, but please listen and always remember.
God is God and we are not. His ways are much higher than our ways, His thoughts much higher than our thoughts. Praise Him for His promises and prophecies that always come true. He has always been faithful in the past so we can trust Him with the future.