When God promised that He’ll be with us until the end of time, we are certain He’ll stay true to it. Nonetheless, reaching out to the Almighty in every moment forms an integral part of our Christian faith. Drawing closely to God in times of need strengthens our faith in Him. But, remembering Him at all times helps in the continuous development of our relationship with Him. This was what the Scottish Anglican Henry Francis Lyte would like to convey when he wrote the hymn “Abide with Me” in 1847. Although the song is intended as a prayer for God’s constant presence in his life, the song actually speaks more than that. Knowing the story of Lyte’s life would lead us to a deeper understanding of his song’s message.
Henry Lyte and his Song, “Abide with Me”
At the tender age of nine, Henry Lyte lost his parents. But at the same time he became an orphan, God sent him a new family. Dr. Robert Borrows, a kind Irish minister took Lyte in and considered him his own child. He sent Lyte to school and he later followed his adoptive father’s footsteps. He finished his studies in 1814 and he was soon ordained as a minister of the Church of England.
Being the compassionate kind of person that he was, Lyte spent most of his time together with his wife caring for the sick. He reached a point where he became the victim of physical illness. He developed tuberculosis and was expected not to live much longer. On September 4, 1847, Lyte delivered his farewell talk. Along with it was the lyrics to the hymn “Abide with Me” which he wrote. Several weeks after preaching his last sermon, Lyte passed away at the age of 45.
Through his song, Lyte asked God to be with him throughout his life, in the midst of his problems, and even through death. Lyte had certainly believed that his Creator has been with him all the way. When his parents left him too early, God provided him with a new family. Through his life and ministry, he was able to help and inspire other people because God was at work in him. When he became ill, God never left his side and He even gave him strength and wisdom to write a beautiful hymn. This precious heritage continues to delight and touches many lives as generations after generations continue to sing it. And now, we are sure that Lyte is happily united with his Creator in heaven.
“Abide with Me” is usually sung to the tune of “Eventide” which William Henry Monk composed in 1981. Below is the legendary singer Elton John performing the hymn live.
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Elton John, Henry Lyte
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