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Abide with Me

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"Abide with Me"
The hymn set to "Eventide"
Written1847 (1847)
Textby Henry Francis Lyte
Based onLuke 24:29
Meter10 10 10 10
Melody"Eventide" by William Henry Monk
Composed1861 (1861)

"Abide with Me" is a Christian hymn by Scottish Anglican cleric Henry Francis Lyte. A prayer for God to stay with the speaker throughout life and in death, it was written by Lyte in 1847 as he was dying from tuberculosis. It is most often sung to the tune "Eventide" by the English organist William Henry Monk.


The author of the hymn, Henry Francis Lyte, was an Anglican cleric. He was a curate in County Wexford from 1815 to 1818. According 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. Later he was vicar of All Saints' Church in Brixham, Devon, England. For most of his life Lyte suffered from poor health, and he would regularly travel abroad for relief, as was customary at that time.

There is some controversy as to the exact dating of the text to "Abide with Me". An article in The Spectator, 3 October 1925, says that Lyte composed the hymn in 1820 while visiting a dying friend. It was related that Lyte was staying with the Hore family in County Wexford and had visited an old friend, William Augustus Le Hunte, who was dying. As Lyte sat with the dying man, William kept repeating the phrase "abide with me…". After leaving William's bedside, Lyte wrote the hymn and gave a copy of it to Le Hunte's family.

The belief is that when Lyte felt his own end approaching twenty-seven years later at the age of 54, as he developed tuberculosis, he recalled the lines he had written so many years before in County Wexford. 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 hymn. 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.[1]

Just weeks later, on 20 November 1847 in Nice, then in the Kingdom of Sardinia, Lyte died. The hymn was sung for the first time at Lyte's funeral. Special thanksgiving services to mark Lyte's bicentenary were held in Taghmon and Killurin churches. Although Lyte wrote a tune for the hymn, the most usual tune for the hymn is "Eventide" by William Henry Monk.


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.

Come not in terror, 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, 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.[2]

Many hymnals omit some of the verses. For example, the compilers of one of the editions of Hymns Ancient and Modern, of which William Henry Monk, the composer of the tune "Eventide", was the original editor, omitted the verse beginning "Thou on my head in early youth didst smile;" for being too personal.[3]


Abide with Me (1861)

The hymn tune most often used with this hymn is "Eventide" composed by English organist and church musician William Henry Monk in 1861.[4]

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

The principal theme of the fourth movement of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 9 is often noted for its similarity to Monk's "Eventide".[5] Ralph Vaughan Williams composed a descant for the 1925 hymnal, Songs of Praise;[6] also an orchestral prelude ("Two Hymn-Tune Preludes", "1. Eventide") on the tune for the Hereford Festival of 1936.[7] 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.[8]

Popular use[edit]

Religious services[edit]

"One of the most sung hymns at funerals, this is really a prayer to God to stay with him in death as He did with us in life."

—Hymns for Funerals by the BBC's Songs of Praise.[9]

The hymn is popular across many Christian denominations and was said to have been a favourite of King George V[10][11] and Mahatma Gandhi.[12] It became a legend that in 1947 it was sung at the wedding of Queen Elizabeth II.[13] It is also often sung or played at Christian funerals;[9] notable examples include the state funeral of George V in 1936,[14] the funeral of Queen Mary in 1953[15] and the state funeral of Jean, Grand Duke of Luxembourg in 2019.[16]

Military services[edit]

The hymn is sung at the annual Anzac Day services in Australia and New Zealand,[17] and in some Remembrance Day services in Canada[18] and the United Kingdom.[19] The song was part of the Beating the Retreat ceremony of the Indian Republic day celebrations till 2021 when it was replaced with an Indian Patriotic song "Aye Mere Watan Ke Logo".[20][21]


The hymn has been widely recorded, by artists in various genres. Thelonious Monk arranged a version featuring John Coltrane, Coleman Hawkins, and Gigi Gryce in 1957.[22] Several versions have charted on the UK Singles Chart. In 1984, a version by the Inspirational Choir, from their debut album Sweet Inspiration, peaked at No. 36,[23] and a re-release the following year also reached the same position.[24] A dance version by Vic Reeves reached No. 47 in 1991,[25] which is from his sole album I Will Cure You. In 2012, Emeli Sandé recorded her version for the 2012 Summer Olympics on the soundtrack album Isles of Wonder. It reached number 44 in the UK[25] and number 63 on the Irish Singles Chart.[26] A 2013 version featuring Joe McElderry and the Royal Mail Choir was released as a charity single raising money for Prostate Cancer UK, reaching number 19 on the UK Indie Chart.[27]

In sport[edit]

The Band of the Irish Guards playing "Abide with Me" prior to the 2011 FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, London

The first and last verses of the hymn are traditionally sung at the FA Cup Final about 15 minutes before the kick-off of the match.[28] The first formal use of the hymn was before the 1927 FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Cardiff City.

The association with the FA Cup Final goes back slightly further to the 1923 final between Bolton Wanderers and West Ham United when record-breaking crowds spilled onto the pitch before kick-off. While the pitch was being cleared, the event choir, St Luke's, sang "Abide with Me"; the crowds of West Ham supporters walking back to the East End are also said to have sung the song. The choir's spontaneous recital may be the origin of the tradition of singing the song before cup finals.[29]

The hymn has also been sung prior to the kick-off at every Rugby League Challenge Cup Final since 1929.[30]

It was featured in the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics, sung by Emeli Sandé as a tribute to the victims of the 7/7 terrorist attacks.[31]

In film and television[edit]

The hymn, in full or in part, is often used in a range of films and television programmes.

In video games[edit]

A chiptune rendition of the hymn serves as the main menu theme of the 2022 indie survival-horror game Faith: The Unholy Trinity.

Several instrumental rendition of the hymn appears in Assassin's Creed Syndicate as ambient music, notably when the character is at the top of certain synchronization points, and is played by an ensemble near a small park.

In literature[edit]

References in literature include George Orwell's Burmese Days.[32]

The Victorian Poet Laureate Alfred, Lord Tennyson, according to Francis Turner Palgrave, on reading "Abide with Me", "was deeply impressed by its solemn beauty; remarking that it wanted very little to take rank among the really perfect poems of our language".[33]


  1. ^ Kidson, Frank (1 January 1908). "Church and Organ Music: 'Abide With Me'". The Musical Times. Novello. pp. 24–25.
  2. ^ "Abide with Me". Risa song lyrics archive. Archived from the original on 27 September 2018. Retrieved 4 February 2012.
  3. ^ Bradley, Ian (1997). Abide with Me: The World of Victorian Hymns. SCM Press Ltd. pp. 66. ISBN 0-334-02703-9.
  4. ^ "Abide with Me". The Cyber Hymnal. Retrieved 28 August 2010.
  5. ^ Mitchell, Donald (2002), The Mahler Companion, OUP.
  6. ^ Kennedy, Michael, ed. (15 August 2013). The Oxford Dictionary of Music. Oxford University Press. p. 2. ISBN 978-0199578542.
  7. ^ title=The Works of Ralph Vaughan Williams, M. Kennedy, publisher=OUP
  8. ^ Ives, Charles E. Thirteen Songs, New York: Peer International Corporation, 1958.
  9. ^ a b "Hymns for Funerals". BBC. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  10. ^ "Abide with me". TheFA. Archived from the original on 14 March 2008. Retrieved 10 June 2007.
  11. ^ Trevor Beeson (2009). "In Tuneful Accord: The Church Musicians", SCM Press, p. 37.
  12. ^ "Beating Retreat weaves soul-stirring musical evening". The Times of India. 29 January 2011.
  13. ^ Bryan, Dora (2005). Dora Bryan's Tapestry Tales. Hymns Ancient and Modern Ltd. p. 45.
  14. ^ Range, Matthias (2016). British Royal and State Funerals: Music and Ceremonial since Elizabeth I. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press. p. 268. ISBN 978-1783270927.
  15. ^ "Queen Mary buried at private Windsor service". The Courier-Mail. 1 April 1953. Retrieved 4 August 2023 – via Trove.
  16. ^ Abide with me . Begräbnis von Großherzog Jean 4.5.2019 (in Luxembourgish). www.youtube.com: sergeluxlu. 2019. Retrieved 4 August 2023.
  17. ^ "Remembrance – ANZAC Day". RSA. NZ. Archived from the original on 24 April 2006. Retrieved 14 May 2006.
  18. ^ "A Guide to Commemorative Services" (PDF). Veterans Affairs Canada. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 May 2006. Retrieved 8 October 2006.
  19. ^ "Hymn: Abide with Me". BBC. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  20. ^ "Abide with me the Christian Hymn". The Indian Express. 22 January 2022. Archived from the original on 22 January 2022. Retrieved 22 January 2022.
  21. ^ "Beating Retreat controversy: "Abide with me", why music should not be used as a divisive catalyst". The Probe. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  22. ^ “Thelonious Monk: Monk’s Music” – “The first track is a horn-only, 55-second chart of the hymn ‘Abide With Me,’” John Garratt, Pop Matters, July 7, 2011, https://www.popmatters.com/140152-thelonious-monk-monks-music-2496042966.html
  23. ^ "INSPIRATIONAL CHOIR | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Officialcharts.com.
  24. ^ "Abide with Me {1985} | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Officialcharts.com.
  25. ^ a b "abide with me | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Officialcharts.com.
  26. ^ "Disocgraphy Emeli Sandé". Irish Charts Portal. Hung Medien.
  27. ^ "Official Independent Singles Chart Top 50". Official Charts Company.
  28. ^ "Abide with me". Meanings. UK: Phrases. Archived from the original on 3 April 2009. Retrieved 15 April 2009.
  29. ^ "White Horse Final: 100 years on". BBC. Retrieved 22 July 2023.
  30. ^ Baker, Andrew (20 August 1995). "100 years of rugby league: From the great divide to the Super era". The Independent. Archived from the original on 6 May 2022. Retrieved 12 August 2009.
  31. ^ "William Henry Monk, Abide with me". Classic FM. Retrieved 1 February 2022.
  32. ^ The Complete Works of George Orwell, Volume 2. Secker & Warburg. 1986. p. 117.
  33. ^ Bradley, Ian (1997). Abide with Me: The World of Victorian Hymns. SCM Press. pp. 207. ISBN 0-334-02703-9.

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