Here is another hymn! This one goes out to a good friend of mine, Brianna. I hope you enjoy this and that you will share with others!
Title: Abide with Me
Meter: 10, 10, 10, 10
Composer: William H. Monk (1823-1889)
Author: Henry F. Lyte (1793-1847)
Born in Ednam, Scotland, near Kelso in 1793 to Captain Thomas Lyte, Henry Lyte was orphaned at a child. Though he was never physically strong, Lyte was a smart scholar, studying at the Royal School of Enniskillen, and eventually at Trinity College in Dublin. During his studies, he earned the esteemed English Prize Poem three times and was thought to have intentions to go off to Medical School to become a doctor. In 1814, when Lyte graduated from Trinity College, he abandoned his ambitions of Medical School and instead studied Theology, taking his first holy orders in 1815 and began his first Curacy in the neighborhood of Wexford in 1817. In 1818, after having removed himself to Marazion in Cornwall, he underwent a great spiritual change that lead to Lyte’s whole view of the afterlife being changed (this can be attributed to the death of his fellow Clergyman). In 1819, Lyte moved to Lymington, where he composed his Tales on the Lord’s Prayer which was written in verse and published in 1826. In 1823, he was appointed the Perpetual Curate of Lower Brixham, Devon, which he held until his death in 1847.
Though there are two stories about the creation of this hymn, the one that has held the most merit (or has been contested the least), is that Lyte wrote “Abide with Me” towards the end of his life. The text first appeared in a letter written August 25th 1847, in which Lyte called it his “Latest Effusion (Westermeyer, p. 473).” After his last sermon and Eucharist on Sunday September 14th, 1847, given in Lower Brixham, Devon, he resigned from the church because of health problems, and he gave the text to a relative with a tune that he had composed for it. The first time the text appeared was in Lyte’s Remains which was published posthumously in 1850. It is generally accepted that the text for “Abide with Me” comes from the bible verse Luke 24: 29, which is the Emmaus story, reading as follows: “Abide with us; for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” Because of this, the hymn is generally mistaken for a hymn that is to be sung at evening, when in reality, the eventide mentioned in the text is a strong metaphor for the ending of the life of a human.
Just as it was for the hymn, there are two stories about how the tune “Eventide” came to be. The first story is that William H. Monk wrote the tune in ten minutes, after it came to the realization that there was no tune for the hymn, during a committee meeting for the first edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern (1861) where the tune first appeared paired with the text. The second account was given by William Monk’s widow, who claims the tune was written during a great time of sorrow, with her by his side while they watched the sun go down. Wesley Milgate states that the two stories may hold merit by a “committee meeting” at Monk’s home with his co-editor of Hymns Ancient and Modern, Henry W. Baker, who was a frequent visitor to Monk’s home, especially to discuss the project. Though Lyte had written a tune for the piece himself, Monk’s “Eventide” has stayed with the piece throughout its life, marking this one of Monk’s “most characteristic tunes,” (Westermeyer, p. 475). Though Monk was known to have written many tunes throughout his career, his works were known as “to order” for specific texts, and they only served the purpose for the texts and then faded after a short time, being almost” distractingly dull,” (Westermeyer, p. 475). In most hymnals now, three of the eight verses are omitted, leaving the hymn with five short verses.
with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.
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 pow’r?
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.
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.
My Take on the Hymn:
This hymn is one of honor and praise to Christ. The text often asks the question, who else can help me through my times of trials? God has a great love for all of us, and sometimes he asks us to turn to Him through our troubles. This hymn reminds us that we have no power of the grip of temptation if we don’t have the grace of God. God’s grace is the greatest gift we can see every day, and it was by his grace that we were given Jesus on the Cross. In stanza four, I feel that the voice of the text becomes almost challenging and boisterous. With God on our side, we needn't have any fear or anxieties, because through Christ, everything will be taken care of, and nothing, not even death, will have power over us!
Julian, John. "Henry Francis Lyte." - Hymnary.org. Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2012. <http://www.hymnary.org/person/Lyte_HF>.
Westermeyer, Paul. "Abide with Me, #629." Hymnal Companion to Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Vol. 1. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2010. 473-75. Print.
"Abide with Me, #629." Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Vol. 1. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2006. 629. Print.