The Christian hymn "Abide with Me" is certainly
one of the most popular if not the most popular of hymns and is to
be found in the hymnals of all Christian denominations. It was composed
by the Scottish poet and hymnologists Henry
Francis Lyte (1793-1847) just before his death in 1847. It was
completed on the same day as his last sermon to the congregation in his
parish church, "All Saints" in Lower Brixham, Devonshire. In fact
the emotional impact of the situation of drawing near to death and the occasion
of his last words to the congregation is acutely felt in the words of the
hymn. He went to meet the Lord three weeks later having died of tuberculosis.
Uppermost in his mind at that time was death and the need for the Lord's presence in these trying moments, "when other helpers fail, and comforts flee". His faith in his Redeemer never failed. He lived constantly in the presence of the Lord as the "help of the helpless", as the one "who changest not". In every, swiftly passing hour he felt the need for the Lord's presence: "I need thy presence every passing hour". In these moments more than in any others he felt the vanity of life, its precarious nature, its fleeting joys and glory and sought, in the presence of the Lord, the source of abiding life, joy, glory and victory. It was in the Lord that he saw the light that "shines through the gloom", it was in the Lord that he saw his "guide and stay" both in life and in death.
Lyte was buried in the English Cemetery of the Holy Trinity
Church, in Nice. "Abide with Me" was one of Mahatma Gandhi's and
King George V's favourite hymns and, for some unknow reason, is also sung
at the FA Cup Final that marks the end of the English soccer season.
See further comments on this hymn in answer to a sceptic.
Abide with Me
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 lifes little day;
Earths joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.
Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word;
But as Thou dwellst with Thy disciples, Lord,
Familiar, condescending, patient, free.
Come not to sojourn, but abide with me.
Come not in terrors, as the King of kings,
But kind and good, with healing in Thy wings,
Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea
Come, Friend of sinners, and thus abide with me.
Thou on my head in early youth didst smile;
And, though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee,
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.
I need Thy presence every passing hour;
What but Thy grace can foil the tempters power?
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 deaths 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;
Heavens morning breaks, and earths vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.
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