Abide With Me

The author of the hymn, Henry Francis Lyte, was an Anglican minister. He was a curate in County Wexford from 1815 to 1818. For most of his life Lyte suffered from poor health, and he would regularly travel abroad for relief, as was customary at that time. The belief is that when Lyte felt his own end approaching at the age of 54, as he developed tuberculosis, he recalled the lines to a hymn he had written so many years before in County Wexford when visiting a friend. The Biblical link for the hymn is Luke 24:29 in which the disciples asked Jesus to abide with them “for it is toward evening and the day is spent”. Using his friend’s more personal phrasing “Abide with Me”, Lyte composed the hymn1. Below are the full words, but most hymnals and songs omit most of the verses.

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,
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,
thus abide with me.

Thou on my head,
in early youth didst smile;
And, though rebellious,
and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me,
though I oft left Thee,
On to the close 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,
abide with me.

I fear no foe,
with Thee at hand to bless
Ills have no weight,
tears lose their bitterness
Where is thy sting death?
Where grave thy victory?
I triumph still,
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,
Lord, abide with me.


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