Mormon Tabernacle Choir Blog

“Master, the Tempest Is Raging”: A Hymn about the Storms of Life

“Master, the Tempest Is Raging” is a hymn based on Mark 4:36–41. The hymn’s text, written by Mary Ann Baker, focuses on the story of the Savior and His disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee, when Jesus “rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still.”

In 1874, Dr. H. R. Palmer requested several songs of Baker for Sunday School lessons under the theme for the year, which was “Christ stilling the tempest.” After Baker completed the text, Palmer set it to music and published it in his Songs of Love for the Bible School during the same year.

Events in Baker’s own life mirrored the turbulence of the scripture passage. According to a passage in the book Our Latter-day Hymns: The Stories and the Messages, by Karen Lynn Davidson, the author says, “Mary Ann Baker was left an orphan when her parents died of tuberculosis. She and her sister and brother lived together in Chicago. When her brother was stricken with the same disease that had killed their parents, the two sisters gathered together the little money they had and sent him to Florida to recover. But within a few weeks, he died, and the sisters did not have sufficient money to travel to Florida for his funeral nor to bring his body back to Chicago.”

Of this trial Baker said, “I became wickedly rebellious at this dispensation of divine providence. I said in my heart that God did not care for me or mine. But the Master’s own voice stilled the tempest in my unsanctified heart, and brought it to the calm of a deeper faith and a more perfect trust.”

In an October 1984 general conference talk titled “Master, the Tempest Is Raging,” Howard W. Hunter stated, “All of us have seen some sudden storms in our lives. A few of them, though temporary like these on the Sea of Galilee, can be violent and frightening and potentially destructive. As individuals, as families, as communities, as nations, even as a church, we have had sudden squalls arise which have made us ask one way or another, ‘Master, carest thou not that we perish?’ And one way or another we always hear in the stillness after the storm, ‘Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?’”

The third verse acknowledges the peace that follows the biblical storm, or the metaphorical storms in our lives, with the opening lines “Master, the terror is over, the elements sweetly rest.” Following each verse is the fundamental message of the hymn’s chorus, which is “Peace, be still.”

Watch the Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform “Master, the Tempest Is Raging” during the October 2013 general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

Master, the Tempest Is Raging (Lyrics)

Master, the tempest is raging!
The billows are tossing high!
The sky is o’ershadowed with blackness.
No shelter or help is nigh.
Carest thou not that we perish?
How canst thou lie asleep
When each moment so madly is threat’ning
A grave in the angry deep?

(Chorus)
The winds and the waves shall obey thy will:
Peace, be still.
Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea
Or demons or men or whatever it be,
No waters can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of ocean and earth and skies.
They all shall sweetly obey thy will:
Peace, be still; peace, be still.
They all shall sweetly obey thy will:
Peace, peace, be still.

Master, with anguish of spirit
I bow in my grief today.
The depths of my sad heart are troubled.
Oh, waken and save, I pray!
Torrents of sin and of anguish
Sweep o’er my sinking soul,
And I perish! I perish! dear Master.
Oh, hasten and take control!

(Chorus)

Master, the terror is over.
The elements sweetly rest.
Earth’s sun in the calm lake is mirrored,
And heaven’s within my breast.
Linger, O blessed Redeemer!
Leave me alone no more,
And with joy I shall make the blest harbor
And rest on the blissful shore.

(Chorus)