Story Behind the Song: Abide With Me

I find it encouraging that most hymns don’t have extraordinary stories behind them because, much like the writers of the songs, most of the people singing them are ordinary people. Many songs that have stood the test of time are not so much because of the writer, but because of the song itself. These songs point us to God, they help us understand His Word, and they enable us to lament or praise or pray. ‘Abide with me’ is one such song. It’s over 150 years old and has been sung in countless churches, war marches, funerals and weddings.

The writer of the song, Henry Francis Lyte, lived much of his life with poor health and died from tuberculosis at the age of 54. The lyrics remind us that in relationship with God, He abides with us, even (or perhaps especially) in our darkest hours. They point out the beautiful realities that we discover while abiding (or remaining) in God. God is our helper, our guide, our friend, and our comforter. He is unchanging, kind, good, healing, present, and gracious.

I hope these lyrics encourage you to abide in God and experience him for yourself:

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.

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 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.

Listen to the song