Abide with Me

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This article is about the Christian hymn. For other uses, see Abide with Me (disambiguation).
"Abide with Me"
Abide with Me Sheet Music.png
The hymn set to "Eventide"
Written 1847 (1847)
Text by Henry Francis Lyte
Based on Luke 24:29
Meter 10 10 10 10
Melody "Eventide" by William Henry Monk
Composed 1861 (1861)

"Abide with Me" is a Christian hymn by Scottish Anglican Henry Francis Lyte most often sung to English composer William Henry Monk's tune entitled "Eventide".

Lyte wrote the poem in 1847 and set it to music while he lay dying from tuberculosis; he survived only a further three weeks after its completion.

The hymn was hugely popular in the trenches of the First World War, and sung by Nurse Edith Cavell the night before the Germans shot her for helping British soldiers to escape from occupied Belgium.

The song is a great favourite of the Royal Family and was played at the weddings of both George VI to Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon and their daughter Elizabeth II to Prince Philip Mountbatten.


The hymn is a prayer for God to remain present with the speaker throughout life, through trials, and through death. The opening line alludes to Luke 24:29, "Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent", and the penultimate verse draws on text from 1 Corinthians 15:55, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?":

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.

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.



An organ performance of "Eventide," best known for its use with the hymn "Abide with Me," performed by Steven Dunlop.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

The hymn tune most often used with this hymn is "Eventide" composed by William Henry Monk in 1861.[2]

Alternative tunes include:

  • "Abide with Me," Henry Lyte, 1847
  • "Morecambe", Frederick C. Atkinson, 1870
  • "Penitentia", Edward Dearle, 1874
  • "Woodlands", Walter Greatorex 1916

Popular use[edit]

Religious services[edit]

The hymn is popular across many denominations, and was said to be a favourite of King George V[3] and Mahatma Gandhi.[4] The hymn was played by the Mysore Palace Band when Gandhi visited the Kingdom of Mysore.[5] 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,[6] although detailed studies have identified other songs played by the band. The hymn was also played at the State funeral of the titular Maharaja of Mysore, Srikanta Wadiyar.[7]

Military services[edit]

The hymn is sung at the annual Anzac Day services in Australia and New Zealand,[8] and in some Remembrance Day services in Canada[9] and the United Kingdom. It is also played by the combined bands of the Indian Armed Forces during the annual Beating Retreat ceremony held on 29 January at Vijay Chowk, New Delhi, which officially marks the end of Republic Day celebrations.[4][10] A choral version of this hymn has been arranged by Moses Hogan.


  • Phrases of the finale of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 9 are often noted for their similarity to Monk's Eventide.[11]
  • Ralph Vaughan Williams composed an orchestral prelude on the tune for the Hereford Festival of 1936.[12]
  • Thelonious Monk recorded an instrumental version of "Abide with Me" with his jazz septet as the first track of the 1957 album Monk's Music. In 2006, two different takes of the recording were released on The Complete 1957 Riverside Recordings, an anthology of Thelonious Monk's work with John Coltrane.
  • The hymn was also set to music around 1890 by the American composer Charles Ives, and was published in his collection Thirteen Songs in 1958, four years after his death.[13]
  • Doris Day recorded this song on her 1962 album You'll Never Walk Alone.
  • The pipes and drums of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards played the hymn in their 2007 album, Spirit Of The Glen.
  • Hayley Westenra recorded the hymn on her third international album, Treasure, and performed it live at various sporting events, including the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final in August 2009.
  • An instrumental version appears on the 2009 David Friesen David Friesen release, Vanishing the Darkness.
  • In 2013, Joe McElderry and the Royal Mail Choir recorded the song, and it was released as a charity single on 14 April 2013, raising money for Prostate Cancer UK.[14] This version reached number 19 in the UK indie charts.[15]
  • At Portora Royal School (the school Henry Francis Lyte attended) the song has become the school's victory song and is sung at the annual Portora Remembrance Service,
  • Alex Sharpe recorded her version of the hymn on her 2014 album, Be Still My Soul.

In sport[edit]

Since the 1927 FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Cardiff City, the first and last verses of the hymn are traditionally sung at the FA Cup Final before the kick-off of the match, at around 2.45pm BST.[16]

It also featured on the B-side of the The Christians, Holly Johnson, Paul McCartney, Gerry Marsden and Stock Aitken Waterman charity single "Ferry Cross the Mersey" in 1989, which was recorded in memory of the Hillsborough disaster victims.

The hymn has been sung prior to the kick-off at every Rugby League Challenge Cup final since 1929, the first final to be held at Wembley Stadium.[17]

"Abide with Me" was also sung at the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, performed by Scottish recording artist Emeli Sandé.[18]

In film and television[edit]

Film Shane (1953)

In literature[edit]

  • In George Orwell's Burmese Days, Flory begins attending church services after turning his mistress out of his house. One of the hymns the small congregation sings along to the sound of a tiny harmonium is "Abide With Me".
  • In the SF novel Voyage by Stephen Baxter, the joint US-Soviet crew of a fictional space station in lunar orbit recite five of the verses as a tribute to three astronauts who were killed following an accident aboard another spacecraft.
  • "Change and decay in all around I see" flash through Belinda's mind in chapter 15 of Some Tame Gazelle, the first published (in England, last published in the U.S.) of Barbara Pym's novels.
  • In Sir Terry Pratchett's Unseen Academicals, Archchancellor Ridcully exclaims, "‘Change and decay!’ Ridcully declared to the night air. ‘I am surrounded by traitors! They thwart me at every turn.’" when unable to obtain a night snack or tobacco.

Other media[edit]



  1. ^ "Abide with Me". Risa song lyrics archive. Retrieved February 4, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Abide with Me". The Cyber Hymnal. Retrieved August 28, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Abide with me". TheFA. Retrieved June 10, 2007. 
  4. ^ a b "Beating Retreat weaves soul-stirring musical evening". The Times of India. January 29, 2011. 
  5. ^ DEEPA GANESH. "On a fugue of thoughts". The Hindu. 
  6. ^ Jay Henry Mowbray, "Sinking of the Titanic: Eyewitness Accounts", Courier Dover Publications, 1998, p. 62.
  7. ^ "The passing of a king and the end of a dynasty #Wodeyar". Storify. 
  8. ^ "Remembrance – ANZAC Day". RSA. NZ. Archived from the original on April 24, 2006. Retrieved May 14, 2006. 
  9. ^ "A Guide to Commemorative Services" (PDF). Veterans Affairs Canada. Retrieved October 8, 2006. 
  10. ^ "Martial music rings down the curtain". The Times of India. January 30, 2011. 
  11. ^ Mitchell, Donald (2002), The Mahler Companion, OUP .
  12. ^ title = The Works of Ralph Vaughan Williams, M. Kennedy, publisher = OUP
  13. ^ Ives, Charles E. Thirteen Songs, New York: Peer International Corporation, 1958.
  14. ^ Abide With Me The Royal Mail Choir & Joe McElderry Amazon.co.uk.
  15. ^ "Official Independent Singles Chart Top 50". officialcharts.com. 
  16. ^ "Abide with me". Meanings. UK: Phrases. Archived from the original on April 3, 2009. Retrieved April 15, 2009. 
  17. ^ Baker, Andrew (August 20, 1995). "100 years of rugby league: From the great divide to the Super era". The Independent. Retrieved August 12, 2009. 
  18. ^ "Emeli Sande Wows At London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony". Capital FM. July 28, 2012. Retrieved July 28, 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Monk, William Henry, "Abide with me — Eventide", YouTube (Video) (Choir), Google 
  • Massed Bands; Monk, WH (January 29, 2011), "Abide With Me", YouTube (Video), Beating Retreat, New Delhi: Google, retrieved October 12, 2014 

External links[edit]