“Story Behind the Song” Sunday
Bible Verse: “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” Isaiah 40:8
Scripture Reading: Psalm 90:10-14
Despite a life-long battle with failing health, Henry Francis Lyte would go on to write some of the most loved hymns, including Abide With Me. The song has touched multiple generations and was even featured in the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremonies.
The hymn was also the last song he would ever write. Near the end of his life, against the advice of his family, he preached despite his weakening state, explaining, “It was better to wear out than to rust out.”
That same evening he entrusted his latest written hymn, Abide with Me to a family member, just a few weeks before his death in 1847.
While the Anglican priest wouldn’t see the song spread around the world and the comfort it would bring to millions, Lyte certainly modeled a life well spent, even if at 54 years it was relatively short.
It is a good reminder, as the psalmist writes, “Teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)
And, as Lyte writes, “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.”
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 terrors, 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, and thus bide 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.
— Steven Sukkau, Promise Keepers Canada
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