There is an interesting story that goes along with the hymn as found in the hymnal Songs of the Church 21st Century edition. It indicates that Lyte wrote the words of this hymn as he sat by the beloved sea, close to death. The final additions to the lyrics were made just before he preached his last sermon. Whether or not that is true, it does help me understand the poignancy of the words that he uses in this lovely hymn.
“In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me!”
Not much more can be asked of God. And abide He will if we seek Him, though His word and through our actions, following the plans He has set forth for us. God is as close as a prayer; closer probably but I don’t know how else to write it. And I ask in my daily prayers “O Lord, abide with me!”
Abide with Me
words: Henry F. Lyte (1847)
music: William H. Monk (1861) [some sources have Henry F. Lyte as having written the music as well as the lyrics]
Abide with me; fast fall the even-tide;
The darkness deepens: Lord, with me abide!
When other helps 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 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.
To hear a recording of this song, please visit Great Songs Chapel.