|"Abide with Me"|
The hymn set to "Eventide"
|Text||by Henry Francis Lyte|
|Based on||Luke 24:29|
|Meter||10 10 10 10|
"Abide with Me" is a Christian hymn by Scottish Anglican Henry Francis Lyte most often sung to English composer William Henry Monk's tune entitled Eventide. It was written in Crossabeg, County Wexford, Ireland, in Artramon House.
The author of the hymn, Henry Francis Lyte, was an Anglican minister and vicar of All Saints' Church in Brixham, England. He was a curate in County Wexford for three years - from 1815 to 1818. For most of his life Lyte suffered from poor health, and he would regularly travel abroad for relief, as was the tradition in that day. According to a plaque erected in his memory in Taghmon Church, he preached frequently in Killurin Church, about nine miles from there. During that time the rector of Killurin Parish, the Reverend Abraham Swanne, was a lasting influence on Lyte's life and ministry.
There is some controversy to the exact dating of the text to "Abide with Me." An article in The Spectator, Oct. 3, 1925, says that Lyte composed the hymn in 1820 while visiting a dying friend. It was related that Francis was staying with the Hore family in County Wexford and had visited an old friend, William Augustus Le Hunte, who was dying. As Francis sat with the dying man, William kept repeating the phrase 'Abide With Me...' 'Abide with Me...' After leaving William's bedside Francis Lyte wrote the hymn and gave a copy of it to William's family.
The belief is that when Lyte felt his own end approaching twenty-seven years later as he developed tuberculosis and, at the age of 54, he thought then of the lines he had written so many years before in County Wexford. The Biblical link for the hymn is Luke 24:29 where the disciples asked Jesus to abide with them for it is toward evening and the day is spent... using his friend's more personal phrasing 'Abide with Me', Lyte composed the hymns. His daughter, Anna Maria Maxwell Hogg, recounts the story of how "Abide with Me" came out of that context.
The summer was passing away, and the month of September (that month in which he was once more to quit his native land) arrived, and each day seemed to have a special value as being one day nearer his departure. His family were surprised and almost alarmed at his announcing his intention of preaching once more to his people. His weakness and the possible danger attending the effort, were urged to prevent it, but in vain. "It was better", as he used to say often playfully, when in comparative health, "to wear out than to rust out". He felt that he should be enabled to fulfil his wish, and feared not for the result. His expectation was well founded. He did preach, and amid the breathless attention of his hearers, gave them a sermon on the Holy Communion. . . . In the evening of the same day he placed in the hands of a near and dear relative the little hymn, "Abide with Me", with an air of his own composing, adapted to the words.
Just weeks later in Nice, then in the Kingdom of Sardinia, Henry Lyte died. It was November 20th, 1847. The hymn was sung for the very first time at Lyte's funeral. Special thanksgiving services to mark Francis Henry Lyte's bi-centenary were held in Taghmon and Killurin churches. Both churches are in Wexford and Kilscoran Union of Parishes.
While he wrote a tune for the hymn, the tune we sing it most to is Eventide by William Henry Monk. Lyte wrote many hymns during his lifetime, much of which was spent in Brixham, England, including "Praise my soul, the King of Heaven" and "Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken". He had always loved the musical side of worship.
The hymn is a prayer for God to remain present with the speaker throughout life, through trials, and through death. The opening line alludes to Luke 24:29, "Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent", and the penultimate verse draws on text from 1 Corinthians 15:55, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?":
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.
Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word,
But as Thou dwell'st with Thy disciples, Lord,
Familiar, condescending, patient, free.
Come not to sojourn, but abide with me.
Come not in terror, 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, 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 tempter's 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 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.
Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.
Many hymnals omit certain verses. For example, the compilers of one of the editions of Hymns Ancient and Modern, of which William Henry Monk, the composer of the tune "Eventide", was the original editor, omitted the verse beginning "Thou on my head in early youth didst smile;" for being too personal.
Alternative tunes include:
The hymn is popular across many Christian denominations and was said to be a favourite of King George V and Mahatma Gandhi. It is also often sung or played at Christian funerals. Some prominent documented occasions of its use are listed below:
The hymn is sung at the annual Anzac Day services in Australia and New Zealand, and in some Remembrance Day services in Canada and the United Kingdom. It is also played by the combined bands of the Indian Armed Forces during the annual Beating Retreat ceremony held on 29 January at Vijay Chowk, New Delhi, which officially marks the end of Republic Day celebrations. A choral version of this hymn has been arranged by Moses Hogan.
"Abide with Me" was also sung at the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, performed by Scottish recording artist Emeli Sandé, as part of a memorial sequence to commemorate those who died in the 7/7 attacks in London in 2005.