Major D. W. Whittle told me the following incident in connection with this hymn: ”I went with General O. O. Howard to hold meetings for the soldiers at Tampa, Florida, and one day while going through the camp I found a young man dying of fever. I knelt by his side and asked him if he was a Christian. He replied that he was not, but said that his father and mother were Christians; and he asked me to pray for him. I did so, but no deep impression was made upon his heart. I went away with a sorrowing heart and promised to return another day. Two days later I visited him again and, praying with him, the Lord put into my mind to sing, ' Jesus, Saviour, pilot me.' The dying soldier said: ' Oh, that sounds good; it puts me in mind of my beloved sister in Michigan, who used to sing this hymn for me before I entered the army.' He wanted me to repeat it over and over again for him, and finally he asked: ' Will Jesus be my pilot into the haven of rest? 'I told the young man that Jesus would. 'Then,' he said, ' I will trust him with all my heart.' The next day I called to see him again, but his comrade said: ' He passed away during the night.'“
The author of this hymn was born in New York in 1818, and for many years was the pastor of the Church of Sea and Land, in that city. The hymn was first published in 1871, in”The Sailors' Magazine."