Abide With Me..!

By Robert Clements. Dated: 11/6/2018 12:10:00 AM

It was on the lawns of Navy House I had been invited by the Vice Admiral to tea, and thanked for a piece I'd written on the navy, and also thanked for being their master of ceremonies during the Navy Week show. Then my heart skipped a beat; the navy band started playing Abide With Me as the sun set that lovely evening.
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, Lord abide with me.
And then the trumpeters on top of the Gateway joined in and I sang softly with them my favourite verse:
I need Thy presence every passing hour;
What, but thy grace can foil thy tempters power?
Who like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine Lord, Abide with me.
It's an awesome song sung and played throughout the world and was a favourite hymn of Gandhiji, and yet the hymn had been written by a man disappointed and dejected that day nearly a hundred years ago: Rev Henry Francis Lyte had walked into his study, his heart sad and burdened. He felt he had failed in his ministry. He was an old man now, near the end of his journey, tired and ill. The doctor had told him he had only a few months to live. Suddenly a verse fell open in front of him: 'Abide with us; for it is toward evening and the day is far spent.'
All at once he was no longer old and tired. Suddenly he was not sad and burdened, no longer discouraged. Words sang through his mind and in less than an hour he had written one of the most beautiful and inspiring hymns of all time! A hymn that has given comfort and courage to millions.
When the famous nurse Edith Cavell, went down before a German firing squad, she whispered the words of, "Abide With Me." And smiled as the bullets hit her, knowing her Lord was abiding with her as she died. When the ship, R.M.S. Stella was sinking with one hundred and five victims during the Second World War, a woman, one of the noble identified, stood on the bridge and sang the hymn until the others were singing along with her. They went down with no fear in their hearts as they clasped the hand of God, abiding with them!
Today I feel myself humming another verse of that famous song:
I fear no foe with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
Where is deaths sting? Where grave thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.
bobsbanter@gmail.com

 

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