Abide with Me, written in 1847, is a Christian hymn by Scottish Anglican Henry Francis Lyte, most often sung to William Henry Monk’s tune Eventide.
Lyte was inspired to write this hymn as he was dying of tuberculosis; he finished it the Sunday he gave his farewell sermon in the parish he served so many years. The next day, he left for Italy to regain his health. He didn’t make it, though—he died in Nice, France, three weeks after writing these words. Here is an excerpt from his farewell sermon:
O brethren, I stand here among you today, as alive from the dead, if I may hope to impress it upon you, and induce you to prepare for that solemn hour which must come to all, by a timely acquaintance with the death of Christ.
For over a century, the bells of his church at All Saints in Lower Brixham, Devonshire, have rung out “Abide with Me” daily. The hymn was sung at the wedding of King George VI, at the wedding of his daughter, the future Queen Elizabeth II, and at the funeral of Nobel peace prize winner Mother Teresa of Calcutta in 1997. More recently it was sung by Emeli Sandé at the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games.
The hymn is popular across many denominations, and was said to be a favourite of King George V and Mahatma Gandhi. It is also often sung at Christian funerals. In the aftermath of the sinking of RMS Titanic, survivors reported that the Titanic’s band played the hymn as the ship was sinking, although detailed studies have identified other songs played by the band.
What always strikes me about this hymn is its stark simplicity, and the way it just centres everything back to God. It’s also speaks of the challenge to above all else, remain attached to God.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
~ John 15: 5- 7
What are your thoughts on this? What does it mean to ‘abide in Him’? Where does this get you? Will you share your thoughts.
Abide in 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 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 not 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.
Finally here is New Zealand’s own Hayley Westenera’s version. Soak it up.