“I Brought My Spirit to the Sea” is not on the list of hymns with which the Anchorage UU Fellowship is familiar, but it should be.
Our fellowship, like many UU congregations, has a large contingent of nature mystics. If you ask what is sacred to them, their answer will be some variation on “being outside in nature.”
We are also an activist congregation, and the last verse of the hymn speaks to that sensibility. It reminds us that we cannot spend all of our days in solitary contemplation. We also need to rise “from bended knee to meet the asking years.”
I didn’t find an audio versions of the tune (Jacqui CM) online, so I brought my rudimentary keyboard skills to the task. The tune is pleasant, and not difficult to play. Its lilting style lends itself well to the hymn text. My only quibble is that the last notes of the last line rise, making each verse seem to end with a question mark.
Unfamiliarity with the tune need not discourage congregations from singing this hymn. Its meter is the aptly named “Common Meter” (the CM in the tune name), and better-known hymn tunes can be used instead of Jacqui. The text, penned by UU minister Max Kapp, was inspired by time spent at Ferry Beach, a UU camp and conference center in Saco, Maine. According to Between the Lines, Ferry Beach participants sing this hymn to the tune, “Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes.”