Abide with Me
|"Abide with Me"|
The hymn set to "Eventide"
|Text||by Henry Francis Lyte|
|Based on||Luke 24:29|
|Meter||10 10 10 10|
|Melody||"Eventide" by William Henry Monk|
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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 author of the hymn, Henry Francis Lyte, was an Anglican priest and vicar of All Saints Church in Brixham, England. He was a curate in Wexford for three years – from 1815 to 1818. For most of his life Lyte suffered from poor health, and he would regularly travel abroad for relief, as was the tradition in that day. Due to a plaque erected in his memory in Taghmon church, he preached frequently in Killurin church, about nine miles from there. During that time the rector of Killurin parish, the Reverend Abraham Swanne, was a lasting influence on Lyte’s life and ministry.
There is some controversy to the exact dating of the text to “Abide with Me.” An article in the Spectator, Oct. 3, 1925, says that Lyte composed the hymn in 1820 while visiting a dying friend. It was related that Francis was staying with the Hore family in County Wexford and had visited an old friend, William Augustus Le Hunte, who was dying. As Francis sat with the dying man, William kept repeating the phrase ‘Abide With Me…’ ‘Abide with Me…’ After leaving William’s bedside Francis Lyte wrote the hymn and gave a copy of it to William’s family.
The belief is that when Lyte felt his own end approaching twenty-seven years later as he developed tuberculosis and, at the age of 54. he thought then of the lines he had written so many years before. The Biblical link for the hymn is Luke 24:29 where 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 hymns. His daughter, Anna Maria Maxwell Hogg, recounts the story of how “Abide with Me” came out of that context.
The summer was passing away, and the month of September (that month in which he was once more to quit his native land) arrived, and each day seemed to have a special value as being one day nearer his departure. His family were surprised and almost alarmed at his announcing his intention of preaching once more to his people. His weakness and the possible danger attending the effort, were urged to prevent it, but in vain. “It was better”, as he used to say often playfully, when in comparative health, “to wear out than to rust out”. He felt that he should be enabled to fulfil his wish, and feared not for the result. His expectation was well founded. He did preach, and amid the breathless attention of his hearers, gave them a sermon on the Holy Communion. . . . In the evening of the same day he placed in the hands of a near and dear relative the little hymn, ‘Abide with Me’, with an air of his own composing, adapted to the words.
Just weeks later, while on holiday in Nice, France, Henry Lyte went to be with Jesus. It was November 20th, 1847. The hymn was sung for the very first time at Lyte’s funeral. Special thanksgiving services to mark Francis Henry Lyte’s bi-centenary were held in Taghmon and Killurin churches. Both churches are in Wexford and Kilscoran Union of Parishes. While he wrote a tune for the hymn, the tune we sing it most to is Eventide by William Henry Monk. Lyte wrote many hymns during his lifetime, much of which was spent in Brixham, England including Praise my soul, the King of Heaven. Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken. He had always loved the musical side of worship.
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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.
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Alternative tunes include:
- "Abide with Me," Henry Lyte, 1847
- "Morecambe", Frederick C. Atkinson, 1870
- "Penitentia", Edward Dearle, 1874
- unnamed, Samuel Liddle (1867-1951) published by Boosey & Co. in 1896; this is the version favoured by Dame Clara Butt.
- "Woodlands", Walter Greatorex 1916
This section needs additional citations for verification. (May 2018) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
The hymn is popular across many Christian denominations and was said to be a favourite of King George V and Mahatma Gandhi. It is also often sung or played at Christian funerals. 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.
- 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, 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.
- 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.
- The hymn was played at the funeral of US President Richard M. Nixon.
The hymn is sung at the annual Anzac Day services in Australia and New Zealand, and in some Remembrance Day services in Canada 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. 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.
- Ralph Vaughan Williams composed an orchestral prelude on the tune for the Hereford Festival of 1936.
- 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.
"Abide with Me" was also sung at the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, performed by Scottish recording artist Emeli Sandé, as part of a memorial sequence to commemorate those who died in the 7/7 attacks in London in 2005.
In film and television
- 1939 film Idiot's Delight, sung by Norma Shearer and Clark Gable
- 1953 film Shane
- TV movie Miss Marple: Nemesis (1987)
- TV series Twilight Zone (1962) – In episode "The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank"
- Film Fist of Fury (1972) – Played by brass band in funeral scene
- TV series Scenes from a Marriage (1973) – In episode "Innocence and Panic"
- TV series Ripping Yarns (1976–79) – In episode "The Testing of Eric Olthwaite"
- Film A Bridge Too Far (1977) – Sung by wounded British paratroopers at a field hospital
- TV Doctor Who:
- Film The Full Monty (1997) – in funeral scene
- Film Crush (2001) – during interrupted wedding scene
- Film 28 Days Later (2002) – while Jim, Mark and Selena are going to Jim's parents' house
- TV series Touched by an Angel (2002) – in episode where Tess develops Alzheimer's disease
- TV series Fat Friends (2003) - sung by the congregation at Rebecca's father's funeral
- Film Latter Days (2003)
- TV series Carnivàle (2004–05)
- TV series Lost (2004–10) – in episode where character Charlie is in confession
- TV series Ashes to Ashes (2008–10) – in episode about Sgt. Viv James's funeral
- TV miniseries Oliver Twist (2007) – taught to Oliver by Rose, sung by Oliver for Bill Sykes
- TV series Doc Martin series 5 episode 2 at the funeral of Joan (September 2011)
- TV miniseries The Roosevelts - episode 7, during Eleanor's funeral (September 2014)
- TV series Parks and Recreation - season 6 episode 1, played on bagpipes while Ron Swanson is visiting Scotland
- TV series Home and Away, Episode 6180 – sung at the ANZAC Day service (April 2015)
- 2016 film Brimstone
- TV series The Resident (TV series) - season 1, episode 1
- TV series EastEnders - Episode 5737 - played at the funeral of character Shakil Kazemi
- 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 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 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.
- Ray Copeland, trumpet; Gigi Gryce, alto sax; Coleman Hawkins and John Coltrane, tenor saxes – on Thelonious Monk album Monk's Music (1957).
- Vic Reeves – 1991 dance-mixed version
- Elton John – 1997 album Carnival: Rainforest Foundation Concert
- ITV – coverage of FA Cup competition until 2009
- Old Harry's Game (BBC Radio 4) – Series 1 & 4; Professor Richard Whittingham mentions that his favourite poem was written by Henry Francis Lyte, and proceeds to recite it to Thomas and Scumspawn. He is also taken to the church where Thomas' father is Vicar and proceeds to weep as "Every Cup Final it would get to me".
- "Abide with Me". Risa song lyrics archive. Retrieved 4 February 2012.
- "Abide with Me". The Cyber Hymnal. Archived from the original on 3 July 2011. Retrieved 28 August 2010.
- "Abide with me". TheFA. Archived from the original on 14 March 2008. Retrieved 10 June 2007.
- 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
- "Beating Retreat weaves soul-stirring musical evening". The Times of India. 29 January 2011.
- DEEPA GANESH. "On a fugue of thoughts". The Hindu.
- Jay Henry Mowbray, "Sinking of the Titanic: Eyewitness Accounts", Courier Dover Publications, 1998, p. 62.
- "The passing of a king and the end of a dynasty #Wodeyar". Storify.
- Jones, Charisse (April 25, 1994). "Songs and Salutes for Nixon's Final American Journey". The New York Times.
- "Remembrance – ANZAC Day". RSA. NZ. Archived from the original on 24 April 2006. Retrieved 14 May 2006.
- "A Guide to Commemorative Services" (PDF). Veterans Affairs Canada. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 May 2006. Retrieved 8 October 2006.
- "Martial music rings down the curtain". The Times of India. 30 January 2011.
- Mitchell, Donald (2002), The Mahler Companion, OUP.
- title = The Works of Ralph Vaughan Williams, M. Kennedy, publisher = OUP
- Ives, Charles E. Thirteen Songs, New York: Peer International Corporation, 1958.
- "Abide with me". Meanings. UK: Phrases. Archived from the original on 3 April 2009. Retrieved 15 April 2009.
- Baker, Andrew (20 August 1995). "100 years of rugby league: From the great divide to the Super era". The Independent. Retrieved 12 August 2009.
- "Emeli Sande Wows At London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony".
- "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'".
- 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
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