Day 3

Abide with Me

from the Hymns of Hope reading plan

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

BY Guest Writer

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.


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.

Post Comments (73)

73 thoughts on "Abide with Me"

  1. Tricia Cavanaugh says:

    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.

    1. Marli Neel says:

      Prayed over you and your family, sister!

    2. Katie Morrison says:

      Prayed over you and your family, sister

    3. Dorothy says:

      Praying for you

  2. Sarah J says:

    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!

  3. Samantha Samuelsen says:

    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!!

  4. Beth Rockwell says:

    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!

    1. Dorothy says:

      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.

  5. Emilee Connell de Umanzor says:

    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.

    1. Natasha Reyes says:

      I pray for a safe and trouble-free delivery for you and the baby! Congratulations in advance!

    2. Marli Neel says:

      Prayed over you sister!

    3. Gina Cano says:

      I remember feeling very similarly before I had my son here in Mexico. Praying for peace and a safe delivery for you and baby. God’s timing is always right.

  6. Dorothy says:

    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.

  7. Melody Coney says:

    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.

  8. Becky Smith says:

    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

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