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Ties to the Titanic: Methodist Band Members



The Titanic sank on April 15, 1912 on its maiden voyage. Historian Phil Gowan says the band leader had Methodist roots, and the last song was probably not "Nearer my God to Thee."

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There were probably at least a dozen Methodists on board, probably more than that. We know of at least that many.

One of those was Lewis Hartley who was the leader of the band, and also John Woodward, were the two we know had Methodist connections. Hartley was the band leader. We know he was well respected. He was young and engaged but never married at the time. He was from Lancashire in England. He was very well respected by all of his men.

He had performed on other ships. And the night of the Titanic sinking, there are a lot of legends about what happened. And everyone has probably heard the legend that the band played 'Nearer My God to Thee' that night. I am suspicious of that. I think the band was actually playing right up to the end because most of the survivors who were in an area where they could hear, do claim that they heard the band playing.

I think the more reliable survivors say the song that was actually being played at the time was "Song of Autumn" but of course "Nearer my God to Thee" made a better story. And once you had the earlier Titanic movies where the people were singing "Nearer My God to Thee," that took on a life of its own.And people tend to want to believe that because there's a little more pathos to that, I guess, those people singing "Nearer My God to Thee."And many of them certainly were at that point.

Also, see: Ties to the Titanic: Methodists on the Titanic

Reflections on the Titanic: Historian Phil Gowan

Posted: April 15, 2011