“But they constrained Him, saying, ‘Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.’ An He went in to stay with them” (Luke 24:29).
Henry Francis Lyte was an Anglican priest who lived in the mid 18O0’s. From his youth he had problems with his health, and he would often travel to places with a drier climate to relieve his symptoms. Close to the end of his life he was diagnosed with tuberculosis, and his health deteriorated more and more, until he finally died in 1847.
Lyte wrote this prayer, inspired in the request of His disciples. At the end of each stanza, the plea is repeated: Abide with me! Stay with me!
This hymn speaks of the end of the day and of the end of life, and at times it is considered to be a bit dismal. But the emphasis is on the continual presence of God and His sweet company in our life.
Can we say with the author, “Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.”? Do we have Jesus as our companion at all times?
As a requisite for our degree in Music Education, my classmates and I had to prepare a worship service for a Sabbath morning. There would be a Communion Service that day, and while the church members were returning from the foot-washing ceremony, we held a praise session that was very spontaneous. I will never forget it. We invited different members of the congregation to share what their favorite hymn was and why, and then ne would sing the hymn. It was a large church with thousands of members, and this beautiful session helped people feel closer to each other, more like a family, and at the same time we heard some inspiring personal testimonies.
I remember that one of our beloved professors, who had taught future Physical Education teachers for many years, told us that this was his favorite hymn. He remembered how his own father had always requested it for evening worship. He returned to his seat, and when we began to sing the hymn, he started to weep.