Lord of the wide-extended main!
Whose power the winds and seas controls,
Whose hand doth earth and heaven sustain,
Whose Spirit leads believing souls;
Throughout the deep Thy footsteps shine;
We own Thy way is in the sea,
O’erawed by majesty divine,
And lost in Thine immensity!
Thy wisdom here we learn to adore,
Thine everlasting truth we prove,
The wondrous heights of boundless power,
The unfathomable depths of love.
Infinite God, Thy greatness spanned
These heavens, and meted out the skies;
Lo! in the hollow of Thy hand
The measured waters sink and rise.
And here Thine unknown paths we trace,
Which dark to human eyes appear:
While through the mighty waves we pass
Faith only sees that God is here.
"It was probably written in 1735, previously to the poet and his brother John sailing to America with General Oglethorpe and the Moravians. This seems to be plainly indicated by the language of the second verse:— "For Thee we leave our native shore, In other climes Thy works explore."This view, however, is not that of Dr. Osborn, the editor of the WesleyPoetical Works, 1868-72. In vol. i. pp. 228-231, there are given the following hymns:— "Servant of God, the summons hear."; "Lord of the wide-extended main"; and "Glory to Thee, Whose powerful word;" and to the first of these ("Servant of God," &c.) Dr. Osborn adds the following note:—
"The animating strains of this hymn and the two next are by no means in accordance with Charles Wesley's spiritual condition and mood of mind in December, 1737, when Mr. Whitefield first left England for America. They were more probably composed in preparation for his second voyage, which began in August, 1739. Nor can we imagine anything more suitable for the occasion; while in the hymns "To be Sung at Sea" ["Lord of the wide-extended main"] and "In a Storm" ["Glory to Thee, Whose powerful word"] the Christian and the poet appear to equal advantage. It may be doubted if the full assurance of faith was ever more finely expressed, or at the same time more rationally vindicated, than in the second and the third of the three hymns which follow one another here."This suggestion by Dr. Osborn that the date is 1739 is made almost certain with regard to “Servant of God," &c, and presumably of the other two, by the fact that "Servant of God," &c, is found in Divine Hymns for the Use of the Societies, by Richard Wyan, 1739. This tract contains three hymns, two by Wyan (one addressed to Whitefield) and "Servant of God, the summons hear,” by C. Wesley. The Wesleys, by printing the three hymns, “Servant of God," &c," Lord of the wide," &c, and "Glory to Thee, &c," as consecutive hymns in the Hymns & Sacred Poems, 1740, seem to fix the date of these hymns as 1739, when Whitefield went on his second voyage to America. The hymn "Servant of God, the summons hear," is rarely used, whilst "Glory to Thee, Whose powerful word," is given "in several collections in America, and as "All praise to Thee, Whose powerful word," in a few in Great Britain. [William T. Brooke] --John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)