A hymn that continues to bring much comfort in times of fear is ABIDE WITH ME. It is often included as part of Remembrance Day Cenotaph services. One can only imagine the immense comfort these words must have brought to soldiers during the fear of war.
Henry and Anne Lyte lived in a village close to the shores in Devonshire, England There, for 23 years he faithfully ministered to his seafaring congregation. Henry had a lung condition and it did not help when some of the seasons of the year by the coast were so cold and damp. In his early 50’s his condition had deteriorated into tuberculosis. On September 4th, 1847 at the age of 54, Henry preached with difficulty what would be his last message to his parishioners. That afternoon before he left for Italy to hopefully regain strength and health, he walked along the coast in pensive prayer. Retiring to his room he emerged one hour later with a written copy of ‘ABIDE WITH ME’. Some said that he had written it within that hour while others said that he had just discovered the words as he was cleaning out his desk drawer. The speculations of both thoughts do not change the comfort dispensed by this hymn!
Henry’s lungs gave out two months later while in Italy. It was during the memorial service held in the fishing village back home and lead by his son-in-law who was also a minister that ABIDE WITH ME was sung for the first time.