Bruce Cockburn wrote this song while he was in Stockholm in 1973, and initially released it on his 1974 album, Salt, Sun and Time. He keeps its message short, its musical arrangement spare, its imagery simple, and yet it still carries a feeling of warmth and joy. Beneath the simple imagery there are other layers of meaning to uncover. It is also easy to appreciate its lyrical beauty without needing to explore its symbolic depths first.
At its heart, this song clearly expresses Cockburn's heartfelt Christian beliefs, but not to proselytize or pressure the listener in any way. This is an expression of love for the beauty of the world's creator as seen in the world's own beauty. It has a feeling of quietly confident generosity to it, not the shrill demanding insistence seen in some music and other art connected to religious beliefs.
This song can also be found on Cockburn's 1977 live album Circles in the Stream, on his 1982 compilation album Mummy Dust, and on his 1987 2-volume retrospective, Waiting for a Miracle.
all the diamonds in this world
that mean anything to me
are conjured up by wind and sunlight
sparkling on the sea
i ran aground in a harbour town
lost the taste for being free
thank God He sent some gull-chased ship
to carry me to sea
two thousand years and half a world away
dying trees still grow greener when you pray
silver scales flash bright and fade
in reeds along the shore
like a pearl in a sea of liquid jade
His ship comes shining
like a crystal swan in a sky of suns
His ship comes shining.