Tuesday Hymns: “Abide with Me”

Henry Francis Lyte was a Scottish Anglican vicar who lived from June 1, 1793 until November 20, 1847. His life was filled with bad health (persistent lung issues) and changing theological views (ranging from being an unconverted vicar, to evangelical pastor, to leaning toward Anglo-Catholicism at the end of his life). He was also a hymn writer and three weeks before his death from tuberculosis completed our “Tuesday Hymn” for this week, Abide with Me.”

The hymn is Lyte’s prayer as he faces the end of his life. In it one sees the difficulties faced as disease begins to takes its toll on a body and soul: “darkness deepens,” “comforts flee,” “change and decay,” “ills,” and “bitterness.” However, through it all one finds that God if faithful. He is the “Help of the helpless,” and the One who “changest not.”

I am not sure why this hymn caught my eye. Maybe it is because my years are beginning to add up. Maybe it is because I see people who I care about battling debilitating diseases. Maybe it is because of the fact that I notice more and more often former classmates listed in the obituaries when I go online in the morning. For whatever reason I am grateful that I can say “Amen” to Lyte’s final plea that “Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee: In life, in death, O Lord, 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 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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2 Comments

  1. belindaplsek said,

    March 11, 2014 at 3:47 PM

    Wonderful hymn, Clifton! I just sat here and sang it out loud all the way through!

  2. mithriluna said,

    March 12, 2014 at 11:25 PM

    Beautiful hymn and touching story behind it. Thank you for the inspiration.


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