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Over the ocean the great white ships,
Spreading their banners, go and come,
Sailing away where the calm wave dips,
Or when 't is lashed to snowy foam.


Out from the harbor we see them go,
Fading away from sight and shore;
Then turn we sadly, but cannot know
Whether our eyes shall see them more.


Over the ocean they gaily ride,
Bearing a freight of many things--
Satins and jewels and gold for some;
Often to others a corpse they bring.


Some that are borne by the gentlest gales,
Gallantly steer in port at last;
Many, dismantled with ragged sails,
Barely out-ride the wild, mad blast.


What could we do who watch our ships,
But for the hope that falls like balm,
Of a port where the bright wave dips
Evermore in God's wondrous calm?


And so we all have our ships at sea;
We send them out across the main.
Freighted with precious hopes they be;
Oft we ask, Will they come again?


Some that we sent have crossed the tide,
Some are just lessening on the sight;
Others are out on the sea so wide,
Battling with storms in a starless night.


And some we watched with a beating heart
Sail long ago from a sunny shore,
Have sent no tidings from any port,
And we know only, they'll come no more.