Hymn Awareness Bulletin–Abide with Me: Fast Falls the Eventide

I can’t quite put my finger on when it happened, but at some point in my late adolescence I discovered hymns.  Having grown up attending a contemporary-style worship service, I was taken aback by how many beautiful, meaningful worship songs we had stopped using in church simply because… well I’m not entirely sure why.  I understand that artists in every generation are compelled to create new works–they can’t resist, nor should they–but I suppose somewhere along the line we mistook this need to create as a license to forget, and I believe we are the poorer for it.

It came to pass that I grew to love hymns and almost categorically prefer them to most modern worship songs (a topic perhaps to be expounded another time), but given my relative newness to this body of tradition, I am still quite regularly discovering hymns I had not before known.  It is my intention to appropriate a portion of this blog to sharing such hymns that have so unfortunately escaped the notice of the rising generations of the faith.  Though I daren’t promise to offer anything that surpasses such masterpieces as “Rock of Ages” or “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” it is my aim that any song displayed here may be of great value to your times both of corporate and private worship.

So without further ado, I present “Abide with Me: Fast Falls the Eventide,” written by Henry F. Lyte (words, 1847) and William H. Monk (music, 1861).  Lyte penned the lyrics after being stricken with tuberculosis, less than a month before his passing:

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.

I need Thy presence every passing hour;
what but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
Who like Thyself my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, O 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 my cross before my closing eyes;
shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies;
heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee:
in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

For a beautiful choral performance of the song, click here.  Depending on your browser, it may begin automatically, or you may need to click the play button on the little gray bar below the song title.

Let us ever acknowledge our constant need for Christ’s presence in us and with us, trusting always in His immeasurable love, perfect power, and unbreakable promises.

Amen.