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Abide with Me
EVENTIDE | Hymn History | Same-Tune Hymns | Bible Passage
Henry F. Lyte, 1793-1847
William H. Monk, 1823-1889
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Abide with me: fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide!
When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.
Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
Earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see:
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.
I need Thy presence ev'ry passing hour;
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter's pow'r?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.
I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness:
Where is death's sting? where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.
Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies;
Heav'n's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.
In the Christian church there's a hymn for every occasion and that's a good thing. There are hymns of praise and thanksgiving; uplifting the heart. There are hymns of testimony and witness; proclaiming the truth. There are hymns which anticipate heaven and encourage the saints to press on to glory. And there are hymns for spedal occasions like Christmas, Easter, weddings and even funerals.
All of us who have suffered the grief which comes when death enters the home will understand the sense of utter helplessness which grips the bereaved.
It's inevitable that the angel of death will visit every family eventually, so when he does it's important to provide the sorrowing ones with all the support and encouragement that's possible.Here's a hymn which does just that.
"Abide With Me", must have been sung at more funerals than any other. There's something particularly solemn about a funeral church filled with men sounding out the strains of this moving hymn. It seems to promote a special reverence at such times; to call down the very hush of heaven.
The man who wrote the words seemed to sense the overlapping of time and eternity; of life and death.
Henry Frands Lyte was the pastor of a little seaside congregation for more than twenty-four years. The members of the church, at Lower Brixham, Devonshire, on England's south coast, were husky, hardy, seafaring men; well used to the ravages of wind and weather.
Well used, also, to the stark trauma of tragedy at sea and the bitter cup of sudden death. The fisherfolk living in such areas of these islands are sadly familiar with the strains of "Abide With Me".
Pastor Lyte, however, didn't enjoy anything resembling good health. Indeed he was fail and sickly. At length it was suggested that a change of climate would be of benefit, and accordingly, he prepared to move to the sunny shores of southern Europe. The doctor gave him the grim news that he had the dreaded 'consumption,' and advised him, 'soak up all the sun you can; it's your only hope of recovery'.
With more than a heavy heart the Reverend Lyte prepared for his journey. Now ministers become attached to their pulpits; and well nigh addicted to the ministry of the Word of God. Henry Francis Lyte was no exception and so, on the Sunday before he was due to depart, in September 1847, he ascended the pulpit steps once more.
His people wondered if he would have the strength to stand behind the sacred desk: or if he would have the voice to speak!
However, with determination he rallied his remaining energies and addressed his beloved people thus:
'I stand among you today as alive from the dead, that I may hope to impress upon you to prepare for that solemn hour which must come to us all, by a time acquaintance with the death of Christ.'
And so he begged them once more to put their trust in the Saviour. Later he served at the Lord's table in a farewell communion feast with his now tearful congregation; and then lovingly committed them to the Lord in prayer.
At home, that same evening, anguish poured from his grief-stricken soul and in search of solace he penned the words of his now famous hymn:
Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, 0 abide with me.
Next day the weary servant of God set sail for Nice in the hope of better health. Sadly, however, it was not to be, for just two short months later, on November 20th, he passed into the presence of his Lord with the words, 'joy' and 'peace' upon his lips.
The early ministry of Henry Francis Lyte had ended. He had gone to his everlasting rest and to his eternal reward. But, thankfully, he left behind as good a legacy as any man could ever hope to leave - a ministry faithfully completed and a great hymn, still sung by millions.
OTHER HYMNS with the SAME TUNE:
Here, O My Lord, I See Thee Horatius Bonar, 1808-1889
29 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.