Song of the Month: October 2021

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!You have relieved me in my distress;
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.
O sons of men, how long will my glory become a reproach?
How long will you love what is worthless and seek falsehood? Selah.
But know that Yahweh has set apart the holy one for Himself;
Yahweh hears when I call to Him.
Tremble, and do not sin;
Ponder in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
Offer the sacrifices of righteousness,
And trust in Yahweh.
Many are saying, “Who will show us good?”
Lift up the light of Your face upon us, O Yahweh!
You have put gladness in my heart,
More than when their grain and new wine abound.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep,
For You alone, O Yahweh, make me to abide in safety.

(Psalm 4)

Abide With Me is an evening hymn, and its word pictures are taken from the experience of the passing day: falling eventide, deepening darkness, growing dimness, and fading glories. In that, it can also be introspective of the end of life.

Stricken with tuberculosis, Henry Lyte resigned the parish he pastored in England in 1847. It is said that he almost had to crawl to the pulpit for the final sermon. There is evidence that he wrote this hymn a number of years earlier in 1820, after visiting a dying friend, who, on his death bed, kept murmuring the passage from Luke 24:29, where the disciples who were traveling to Emmaus asked Jesus to “abide with us, for it is evening and day is almost spent.” Perhaps, feeling his own frailty on his last Sunday, he remembered the hymn he had previously written and brought it out at that time.

Lyte desired to leave behind a hymn that would endure, writing in an earlier poem,

“Some simple strain, some spirit-moving lay, Some sparklet of the soul that still might live When I was passed to clay… And grant me … my last breath to spend In song that may not die!”

This text is a prayer for our own pilgrimage today, a daily appeal with our Lord to abide with us and to be there, unchanging when all around us changes. I’m looking to learning this and singing this with you all this month.

Onward and Upward!

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