Dr. Robert Bateman gently helped his sister-in-law into the lifeboat. “Don’t be nervous, Annie. This will test our faith. I must stay and help the others. If we never meet again on this earth, we will meet again in heaven.” Bateman dropped his handkerchief to the woman as the boat dropped toward the dark, icy water below. “Put that around your throat, Annie. You’ll catch cold.”
Dr. Bateman then gathered about fifty men at the stern of the ship and told them to prepare for death. Earlier that day, he had conducted the only religious service on the large ship, a service that ended with his favourite hymn, Nearer My God to Thee.
Robert Bateman had founded the Central City Mission in Jacksonville, Florida, a spiritual lighthouse in a city regularly full of drunken sailors. He had been called ‘the man who distributes more human sunshine than any other in Jacksonville.’ Bateman went to England to study Christian social work and was returning to the United States to put into practice what he had learned.
However, late on the night of April 14, 1912, Bateman’s ship struck an iceberg. Bateman led the men with him on the stern of the ship in the Lord’s Prayer. As the band played Nearer My God to Thee the great ship Titanic slid under the waves.
Nearer, my God, to Thee