When Jesus Looked o’er Galilee

When Jesus Looked

When Jesus looked o’er Galilee,
So blue and calm and fair,
Upon her bosom, could He see
A cross reflected there?

When sunrise dyed the lovely deeps
And sparkled in His hair,
O did the light rays seem to say:
A crown of thorns He’ll wear?

When in the hush of eventide
Cool waters touched His feet,
Was it a hymn of Calvary’s road
He heard the waves repeat?

But when the winds triumphantly
Swept from the open plain,
The Master surely heard the song:
The Lord shall live again!

Sometimes a melody precedes the writing of lyrics, and this was the case when Catherine Baird penned these. She was given some music by a young woman who had suffered a great sorrow, and as Catherine played the tune over and over on her piano, she thought somehow of Jesus as a young boy realising His destiny yet continuing to live towards it. Catherine loved the sea, as well as the wind. She recalled running over the African veld as a child, with the warm wind in her hair, and the feeling of freedom that gave her. The song is now usually sung to the newer tune, “Fewster”, composed by a British Salvation Army officer, Commissioner Ernest Fewster.

Catherine Baird was born in Australia in 1895, the youngest of five children of Salvation Army officers. When she was eight years old, her parents were appointed to Cape Town, South Africa. As a young girl, Catherine did not like the Salvation Army’s noisiness. She was happiest in a quiet classroom, loved books, and wanted to become a teacher or a nurse. Nevertheless, she began to wonder if she might serve the Lord and others better by becoming an officer herself. This became reality when, after breaking her engagement to a young man whom she sadly realised she did not love, she was asked to fill in at a corps in the town of Kimberley. She did so, and continued to serve as an officer with little formal training, as was often the custom in those days.

Catherine’s later years of service were in the editorial departments of the Army, as well as in speaking engagements and in her great contributions to Army literature. Her numerous beautiful poems have enriched the lives of many, and only some have been set to music.

S.A.SONG BOOK, 1987 EDITION, #103; 2015 EDITION, # 209

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