Charles Kingsley's "The Three Fishers" (which appeared in my previous post) revolves around the image (and sound) of the "moaning" of "the harbour bar." According to Christopher Ricks, who has edited Alfred Tennyson's poetry, Tennyson owned a copy of Kingsley's Andromeda and Other Poems (1858), in which "The Three Fishers" appeared. Christopher Ricks (editor), Tennyson: A Selected Edition (1989), page 665. Further, Tennyson's wife Emily noted in her journal that he read some of Kingsley's poems to her in 1858. Ibid.
Tennyson wrote "Crossing the Bar" in October of 1889 when crossing the Solent to the Isle of Wight. Although the poem was prompted by that journey, Kingsley's "Though the harbour bar be moaning" may have been hovering somewhere in the back of his mind as well.
Crossing the Bar
Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.
Alfred Tennyson, Demeter and Other Poems (1889).
Commentators on the poem usually link "bourne" in line 13 to Hamlet's description of death as "the undiscovered country from whose bourn/No traveller returns." Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act III, Scene i, 79-80. Coincidentally, Christina Rossetti wrote a poem titled "The Bourne," which I have previously posted here. The poem was published in 1866, but I am not suggesting that it influenced Tennyson, merely noting another use of the word in Victorian poetry.
Commentators also suggest that "face to face" in line 15 may be an allusion to 1 Corinthians 13.12: "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face."