Tuesday Hymns: “Abide with Me! Fast Falls the Eventide”

Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847) was a Scottish Anglican pastor who was ordained at a very young age. Although he mocked conservative pastors early in his ministry calling them, “enthusiastic rhapsodists,” he experienced true Biblical conversion two years after becoming a curate in Taghmon, Ireland. He was the author of several hymns, my favorite being, “Praise My Soul, the King of Heaven,” and our Tuesday Hymn for the week, “Abide with Me! Fast Falls the Eventide.”

Lyte wrote “Abide with Me” as he lay dying with tuberculosis in 1847, and the hymn depicts the end of one’s life on earth as a sunset with the sunrise of the joy of the new heavens and the new earth awaiting those who are in Christ. The hymn is a prayer, asking the gracious “Help of the helpless” to abide with the believer as he faces the last enemy he will ever face: physical death. It is sung to the tune, EVENTIDE (MONK).

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, O 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.

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5 Comments

  1. March 1, 2011 at 12:03 PM

    Great post about a great hymn. Don’t know if it was historical or hollywood, but in the movie A Bridge Too Far, British paratroopers sang the song as they were overrun by the Germans.

    • cliftonr said,

      March 1, 2011 at 12:19 PM

      Although some witnesses contradicted the account, there were those who said that it was played as the Titanic went down, also.

  2. Joshua said,

    March 2, 2011 at 12:51 PM

    It is true about the British paratroopers singing the hymn as members of the SS Division Hohenstaufen took them into captivity. Some were later massacred by the SS.

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