Hymns of Hope: Day 3

Abide with Me

by

Today's Text: John 15:1-8, 1 John 3:18-24, Numbers 23:19, 1 Corinthians 15:50-58  

Scripture Reading: John 15:1-8, 1 John 3:18-24, Numbers 23:19, 1 Corinthians 15:50-58

The hymn “Abide with Me” is my funeral song. It is the song that, after what I hope is a very long and sweet life, I want sung by my people when I’ve gone to glory.

It is also my living song, one that I have turned to in so many seasons. I sang it for months on end after my beloved grandmother died, as I wandered lost through the fog of grief for the first time. I sang it when my husband and I moved away from our first home, when I wrestled with deep fears and ached for community. I sang it when our best friends’ baby died. I sang it when I, eight months pregnant with a broken body and weary mind, paced for hours on end in the middle of the night, awaiting our sweet girl’s arrival.

Fear, death, paralyzing anxiety—these are the things I’ve carried my whole adult life. But this song reminds me that I don’t have to carry them. When I ask for the Lord’s presence to be near, He reminds me that He’s always with me, that He’ll never leave me.  

I am hardly the first person to associate this hymn with death, nor will I be the last. When he wrote the text, Henry Francis Lyte was dying of tuberculosis. It is rumored to have been played by the band on the Titanic after it struck the fatal iceberg. It was played at Mother Teresa’s funeral, and at Richard Nixon’s too. It was played at Ground Zero after 9/11. Joyfully, it was also played at Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s wedding.

I love this hymn so much, I could write a dissertation on every line. I love it so much because it reminds me—it floods me—with the goodness, faithfulness, kindness, and trueness of God.

In Luke 24, Jesus appears to His disciples after the resurrection. They don’t yet recognize Him when they ask Him to stay with them, because the night is falling. Thus begins the first stanza of the hymn—Abide with me, fast falls the eventide.

When I hear this hymn, I am drawn to reflect on what it says specifically about who God is: He helps the helpless, and He changes not. He is my guide and my strength, and His grace alone foils Satan’s power. This song also declares that all earthly helpers and comforts will surely fail and fade under the harsh light of sin; change and decay are the norm here in a fallen world. But most importantly, when I listen to this hymn, I am reminded of my only hope, my only comfort in both life and death—Jesus. I need Him every hour.

This song knits together lament and hope, the way every day of this Christian life does. I ache, and I rejoice. I long, yet I live in abundance. I weep, and I laugh. I will die, but I will also live forever because of Jesus.

Abide with me, Lord—these are the words Henry Lyte penned before he died.
Abide with me, the disciples asked, before they even knew He was already there.
Abide with me, we ask, we pray, we sing.

Abide with Me
Text: Henry Francis Lyte, 1847
Tune: William H. Monk, 1861

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 power?
Who like Thyself my guide and strength 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 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.

SRT-HymnsofHope-Shareimage-Day3

Melanie Rainer is a bookworm from birth who makes her days writing, editing and reading in Nashville, where she also joyfully serves as the editor of Kids Read Truth. She has an M.A. in Theological Studies from Covenant Seminary, spends as much time as she can in the kitchen, and can’t wait until her two daughters are old enough to read Anne of Green Gables.

  • Rachel Tang

    I have never heard of this hymn until this devotional. In the midst of my anxieties and the daily stresses of life, the message of this hymn is so comforting and such a good reminder that I need to trust in God. The negative parts of life on earth are nothing compared to the power of God. I mean, DEATH has been swallowed up by victory and my troubles are nothing compared to that!!!

  • Jennifer Wood

    Anxiety can be so overwhelming. It’s no easy thing to abide in You. Fear, desires of a sinful heart and striving pull me every which way. Sometimes, I feel completely paralyzed by my fear of what could happen. Sometimes, I can’t act in love because I don’t even know for sure what the loving thing to do is anymore. Lord, hold me and work in me beyond myself. Reach me far beyond my ability to reach out for you. Apart from you, I can do nothing.

    • v

      Lord be with Jennifer Wood, in your presence fear is silent because you wear the victors crown! the desires of her heart maybe sinful , but you are the healer and you are greater and you are stronger! Lord I pray she trusts you when something pulls her. Lord I too have struggled. I thank you for her honesty has encouraged me.

  • Daria Turner

    1 Corinthians 15:58

    • Maria Whitfield

      I highlighted the same scripture … such a simple, yet powerful direction … LOVE this.

  • Jeanette Anderson

    My favourite. I have such blissful memories of singing this in college choir.

  • Monica Vargo

    I love this hymn. Here’s a version that I listen to often:
    https://open.spotify.com/track/5EJgnBqecCsX6R6FRII3OL?si=A2vrMZabSQa_dPK71qMeQw

  • Kiana Johnson

    I love the reminder that I must abide in my Savior. I must lean on him for everything. If I don’t, it’s possible that nothing I hope for in this life will come to pass. In this season of wonder and wandering and feeling a little lost, when I ask for stillness, peace, and stability, he will provide that to me when I abide in him. “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

  • Christina Currano

    I needed this hymn today. I need to remember to ask God to abide with me daily. As I navigate through a life different from the one I planned. My divorce was finalized last month, I worry I will never have a family of my own but then I hear this and know that as long as I remain in him my life is already full.

  • Tricia Cavanaugh

    I’m a day behind in reading and think I now know why. How appropriate this devotional is today. My grandmother, my last one from both mine and my husband’s grandparents is in the hospital. They feel she has had a cardiac event and is going to have a stress test today. I’m not sure that the results will change much of anything because she is 90 and will not be having any sort of intervention. She is a strong Christian woman and is ready to go if the Lord calls her home. I hope that doesn’t happen yet, I’m not ready for her to be gone, but I hold tight to His promise to abide with me.
    I covet your prayers during this time.

  • Wow. This is such a great hymn. I’d never noticed before. Just now sang it as a prayer to God, and I can feel His presence. There could be a whole devotional series just on this song!

  • Samantha Samuelsen

    Oh how much I needed this today! As stressors come and things seem so overwhelming, I so quickly allow anxiety and fear to dwell in my mind and heart. In acknowledging my need, rather than building a wall around my heart by trying to muscle through on my own strength, I find true peace. We are in His hands!!

  • Beth Rockwell

    This is a beautiful song. My Mother passed away 2 years ago. I miss her so much. This song gives me peace because I do believe she abides with Him and she is totally well again. Faith leads me to believe that someday we will be reunited to abide with Him. Praise God!

    • Dorothy

      My father passed a year ago June, my mother passed in October 2012 and my oldest son passed Labor day 2003 and I agree fully with you.

  • Emilee Connell de Umanzor

    My due date is tomorrow and I’ve been growing a bit impatient and anxious because my husband and I live in Honduras and I’ve been worried about baby boy’s citizenship and my visa and a bunch of other stuff. Someone stopped in this morning just for a few minutes and told me not to worry or grow anxious about baby’s timing to enter the world because God’s timing is perfect. It was just what I needed to hear, just like this was just what I needed to read. Thank you for such a good and timely word.

  • I have never hear this song until now. The words are of great meaning and can be understood not to be just about death but about grief in general. Grief of loss of job, grief of family member straying from Christ or many other personal griefs or let downs. I have a book that I read occasionally titled “Then Sings My Soul” it tells of the author of the hymn and how they came to write it. I know that their is a second volume and possibly a third. If anyone is interested in learning about many of the hymns I would suggest you read it.

  • Melody Coney

    I’ve been getting easily frustrated at life’s little let downs. In response, I’ve been living my days really stressed out and with a bad attitude. This was a sweet reminder that God is near, He abides with me. In my messes, He abides with me. I can rejoice because He has the ultimate victory over all life’s’ let downs.

  • Becky Smith

    You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence,
    with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Ps. 16:11

  • Kelly Hock

    Today I know deep in my soul of this comfort… I always need to hear this message but if I am honest I was hoping this devotional would hit on the part of asking because we have God’s heart. That was in the scripture reading and I would love to read a devo on that! Although maybe there is a reason for this devo today??? I will abide in him!

  • Chi Obasi

    This song played at the funeral of the Aunt that was like a 2nd mother to my parents, and it is one of my Dad’s and my own favorite hymns. I love how simple it is, and yet how deeply it can pierce your heart. It’s such a beautiful representation of a desperate faith, and of putting your cares in the hands of Jesus.

  • Lynn Johnson

    In life, in death, O LORD, abide with me. May I always remember how near my precious Father is through the good, bad and ugly of life. ❤️

  • Rebekah Clearwater

    Thank you for this. I needed this today! ❤️

  • KatieinSc

    For me, my funeral song is probably a mix of “It Is Well With My Soul” and “How Great Thou Art”. Such a mix of joy and grief and serenity in them both. Abide With Me has never been one of my favorites but I’m going to give it another listen today. Sometimes hymns connect with us right away and sometimes we need some time.

  • MNmomma (HeatherNistler)

    oh how I have cried out these words over the past year…..Be near to me Lord….Abide with me…

    It has been a year of leaning in – relying ONLY on Him….seeking Him – actively, continually…relinquishing my desire to control things in my life to Him. Oh how I have grown during this crazy time. In a weird way, I am so very thankful that I had this injury (crazy, right?!?!) Being completely dependent on others, having to let others help me, having to stop “doing”, learning a new way of living…..all of these things have had me crawling to the throne….keeping my eyes on Him.

    I am excited to report that the many, many prayers lifted have been answered….I am regaining mobility and have been walking without a boot for about 4 weeks (It was 14 months of boot or cast……many months with ZERO mobility). I still have significant circulation and nerve issues, but I am able to be a part of “Life” once again! I have a renewed appreciation for the simple things in life: walking the dogs, going to the lake, etc. I have cried so many tears of thanksgiving over the past month…..Praise the Lord!!!!
    I am being healed in many ways…..there was pride that I didn’t realize, an independence that I didn’t realize was separating me from the Lord…..being broken has brought me closer to Him, dependent on Him….
    Yes, I pray I can again run Marathons……BUT I know that EVEN IF I can’t, God is still good…..He is good all of the time! <3

    What's been really cool is how He has used this time to impact others….I have chronicled my journey on FB….and people have messaged me about how it has been perspective shifting for them….and asking about my faith….He has used this for His Glory! <3 Feel free to stop by and say hi…. (Heather Murphy Nistler)

    • Heather. Rejoicing with you… thankful for His healing and ‘Abiding with you..’
      Take care my friend… eoll continue to lift you up in prayer… with love and hugs.. always.. xxx

  • Adrienna Purdy

    This was my song as my father was dying from ALS a few months ago. I found myself praying it for him, though he was not a believer, and for myself. I still play the Audrey Assad version regularly when I need comfort.

    • andreina

      Hey Adrienna! My mom also passed away from ALS in 2012. It was really hard but God got me through that really difficult time. I pray that you may find your strength, peace and joy in God in all seasons. God bless you!

    • Jordan Elliott

      So sorry for your loss, Adrienna. I just found the Audrey Assad version on YouTube; it is overwhelming and beautiful. My father is battling cancer right now, so this is one we will look to for comfort and strength as well.

  • I am grateful to know that he is always near. This hymn is a blessing because my heart is anxious. My daughters house got shot up last night. Her back windshield is blown out and some windows in her house. She is 6 months pregnant and was having contractions from the stress. I want her home. My heart worries but I know God is in control. Please pray for my daughter’s salvation and safety. Thanks!!

  • Taylor Martin

    I am currently working through another devotional right now as well. One of the questions today asked: Are you willing to seek God when times are tough?
    That word seek, compared to the often thought of “cry out” lead me down a rabbit trail of logophilia. I found that for myself, I am often crying out instead of seeking out. I use God as an emotional dumpster and then forget or simply don’t want to seek him out for answers and assurance. I think this hymn is a great reflection of actually seeking out God. It is not simply crying out, but seeks out the presence of God for the joy, comfort, and rest that comes from being near and abiding with him. I think it’s a beautiful reminder today.

  • Kelly Chataine

    I need Thy presence every passing hour.
    What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
    Who like Thyself my guide and strength can be?
    Through cloud and sunshine, O abide with me.

    As school approaches, rapidly approaches, I feel a bit rushed and needy. I am crying out to God for healing to come to my husband even more than before. I remind myself of God’s power and push this world’s limitations out of my mind. Oh Jesus, abide with us!

    • MNmomma(Heather Nistler)

      Joining you in this prayer Kelly….you have been on my mind a ton lately! (I even tried to find you on FB to message you directly… I haven’t been “in real time” with the devotions recently, but have been going thru them all, but not commenting….I am that far behind on them : ) Prayerful over you…. Heather Murphy Nistler

  • Kay Coughlin

    Lately, I find myself waking up with anxiety over a lot of situations I know I can’t control, and which I certainly can’t fix. My daily prayer is to turn all of these things over to Him. I feel like this is my eventide- for whatever reason, I can’t turn things over to Christ right now, but I know He is there. I know this anxiety will pass from me if I will only let Him take it. So He abides with me while I wrestle with my mind, and He comforts me, telling me He loves me anyway.

    • Taylor Martin

      I can relate to this. Also, I really appreciate your honesty about struggling to turn things over. I spent my morning journaling about just that.

    • PamC

      Praying His peace that passes all understanding will guard our hearts & minds in Christ Jesus.

    • Dorothy

      Kay you might want to keep this phrase near so you can say it first thing in the morning, I helped me after my son’s death, “Let God and let go” I’ll be praying for you

    • Michelle

      Kay- thank you for sharing. I feel like you were speaking my thoughts as I wrestle with my mind as well . Praying for you

  • Churchmouse

    “Change and decay are the norm here in a fallen world.” True words you have written, Melanie. The older I become, the more valid I know that to be. Change and decay would be an unbearable burden if it were not for the Cross, the Hope found there in Jesus. This world is not only tolerable but can be enjoyed because He has “moved into the neighborhood” as the Message Bible says. His presence makes all the difference. He makes Himself available to us all. He gives us His indwelling Spirit. He abides with us and we with Him. Such sweet fellowship amidst the change and decay of this life. Sweeter still to be found in all eternity. This hymn is no funeral dirge but a triumphant victory march. “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!”

    • Dorothy

      Churchmouse I always enjoy your insights and comments. As I read your replies many of them allow me to see what is being discuss in a different light. After reading your comment and rereading the lyrics to this hymn I see that it is talking about life in general not just when we die.

  • Samantha Clarke

    I also consider this hymn my funeral song. This hymn speaks to my soul, my hope, my failures, my every being. “In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me”. Thank you for the beautiful reminder.

  • I have loved this hymn since I was a child….I can still hear my beloved daddy singing it as I write.
    I never really understood the words but knew in my heart they were life giving and hope filled.

    It wasn’t until the first real grief, heart breaking pain, hurt of losing my grandma that i began to understand truly what the words were meaning…
    Abide with me…
    Live within me…
    Stay close, no.. CLOSE to 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… these were my favourite and have been life saving in some seriously deep pit/valley moments.
    Grateful for the words that were penned so long ago and YET..
    Ahh.. I need the every hour my Jesus… I need the every minute … every second my Lord.. I need thee….
    Amen..

    Sending love wrapped hugs to you all.. Happy Wednesday! Xxx

    • Tammy Hammonds

      Happy Wednesday Tina!

    • candacejo

      He has surely proven to be with you, Tina. Your deep pit and valley moments that God has brought you through have been wonderful testimonies to others of His faithfulness! ♥

      • Tina

        Ahh Nannette… thank you for your lovely encouragement.. hope all is well with you and yours…
        Did you get my message some weeks ago???
        Hugs… xxxx

  • Michelle Tingstrom

    A great reminder that God is always there in the good times and bad, in the easy and hard times. He is there always and forever.

  • Lucy Rinehart

    What a beautiful reminder of the goodness of our Savior!

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