Abide with Me

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"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 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.



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 Christian denominations and was said to be a favourite of King George V[3][4] and Mahatma Gandhi.[5] It is also often sung or played at Christian funerals.[citation needed] Some prominent documented occasions of its use are listed below:

  • The hymn was played by the Mysore Palace Band when Gandhi visited the Kingdom of Mysore.[6]
  • In the aftermath of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, survivors reported that the Titanic's band played the hymn as the ship was sinking,[7] 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.[8]
  • The nurse Edith Cavell is said to have sung the hymn with a chaplain in her cell the evening before she was shot by the Germans in 1915.[4]
  • The hymn was played at the funeral of US President Richard M. Nixon.[9]

Military services[edit]

The hymn is sung at the annual Anzac Day services in Australia and New Zealand,[10] and in some Remembrance Day services in Canada[11] and the United Kingdom.[citation needed] 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.[5][12] A choral version of this hymn has been arranged by Moses Hogan.[citation needed]


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 2.45 pm BST.[19]

The hymn featured on the B-side of the 1989 charity single Ferry Cross the Mersey, 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.[20]

"Abide with Me" was also sung at the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, performed by Scottish recording artist Emeli Sandé,[21] as part of a memorial sequence to commemorate those who died in the 7/7 attacks in London in 2005.[22]

In film and television[edit]

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 US) 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 4 February 2012. 
  2. ^ "Abide with Me". The Cyber Hymnal. Archived from the original on 3 July 2011. Retrieved 28 August 2010. 
  3. ^ "Abide with me". TheFA. Archived from the original on 14 March 2008. Retrieved 10 June 2007. 
  4. ^ a b Trevor Beeson: In Tuneful Accord: The Church Musicians, SCM Press 2009, p. 37. https://books.google.com/books?id=pUv8KoGELpQC&lpg=PA37&ots=XdqavOt6jp&dq=%22abide%20with%20me%22&pg=PA37#v=onepage&q=%22abide%20with%20me%22&f=false
  5. ^ a b "Beating Retreat weaves soul-stirring musical evening". The Times of India. 29 January 2011. 
  6. ^ DEEPA GANESH. "On a fugue of thoughts". The Hindu. 
  7. ^ Jay Henry Mowbray, "Sinking of the Titanic: Eyewitness Accounts", Courier Dover Publications, 1998, p. 62.
  8. ^ "The passing of a king and the end of a dynasty #Wodeyar". Storify. 
  9. ^ Jones, Charisse (April 25, 1994). "Songs and Salutes for Nixon's Final American Journey". New York Times. 
  10. ^ "Remembrance – ANZAC Day". RSA. NZ. Archived from the original on 24 April 2006. Retrieved 14 May 2006. 
  11. ^ "A Guide to Commemorative Services" (PDF). Veterans Affairs Canada. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 May 2006. Retrieved 8 October 2006. 
  12. ^ "Martial music rings down the curtain". The Times of India. 30 January 2011. 
  13. ^ Mitchell, Donald (2002), The Mahler Companion, OUP .
  14. ^ title = The Works of Ralph Vaughan Williams, M. Kennedy, publisher = OUP
  15. ^ Ives, Charles E. Thirteen Songs, New York: Peer International Corporation, 1958.
  16. ^ Abide With Me The Royal Mail Choir & Joe McElderry Amazon.co.uk.
  17. ^ "Official Independent Singles Chart Top 50". officialcharts.com. 
  18. ^ Assad, Audrey. (2016). Inheritance, Deluxe Edition. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  19. ^ "Abide with me". Meanings. UK: Phrases. Archived from the original on 3 April 2009. Retrieved 15 April 2009. 
  20. ^ Baker, Andrew (20 August 1995). "100 years of rugby league: From the great divide to the Super era". The Independent. Retrieved 12 August 2009. 
  21. ^ "Emeli Sande Wows At London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony". 
  22. ^ "NBC sparks fresh outrage by claiming it edited out tribute to London 7/7 bombings from Olympics Opening Ceremony as it 'wasn't tailored to U.S. audience'". 

Further reading[edit]

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

External links[edit]