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Abide with me -- Henry F Lyte

Guest poem submitted by Ira Cooper:
(Poem #1007) 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.

 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 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 bide 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.
-- Henry F Lyte

Since adolescence, this poem always has been a comfort to me. Years later,
it is especially so in these traumatic times.



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. For more than a century, the bells of his
church at All Saints in in Lower Brix­ham, Devon­shire, have rung out "Abide
with Me" daily. The hymn was sung at the wed­ding of King George VI of
Britain, and at the wed­ding of his daugh­ter, the fu­ture Queen Elizabeth


12 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Joshi Siddhartha said...

At the end of the Beating Retreat ceremony (held every year on the 29th of January) at Vijay Chowk, the bell towers (of Rashtrapati Bhawan; do they have a complete carillon? I would imagine so...) perform "Abide with me". If I remember correctly, they begin the tune and the massed bands take it up. The magnificent setting (Lutyens' Delhi), the chilly winter weather and colourful pageantry of the massed bands - and of course the atmosphere created by the music make for a truly memorable experience. As the last peals roll down Raisina Hill and die away, all the buildings around and including the north and south blocks light up - and the firework display begins.

PS: It is a fact that Gandhi loved this hymn.

PPS: A website with some info on the ceremony: [broken link]

Jerry Rao said...

It was a favourite of Mahatma Gandhi's......

Jerry Rao

Alice Clarke said...

I think it's because of it's links to the football but apparently this is one of the best known songs ever, scientists did tests on dementia patients and found this was the song most could remember. Interesting I think, and beautiful words.

Kerri said...

Such a beautiful hymn, even to a cynical old pagan like me. I attended the
memorial services at Gallipoli in Turkey on ANZAC Day in April 2001, and I
managed to hold my dignity together during the various components of the
Dawn Service. That is, of course, until we sang Abide With Me, whereupon I
dissolved into tears. Intensely moving.

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