Abide with me lord..!


IT was on the lawns of Navy House, some years ago I was introduced to the Vice Admiral. “Thank you for the wonderful piece you wrote on the navy,” he said and I smiled. But it was not the admiral’s words nor the spit and polish of uniformed men I remember, nor the dramatic display by the helicopters; what lingers on in my mind is the navy band playing Abide With Me, as the sun set that 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 had joined in and I sang softly with them my favourite verse:
I need Thy presence every passing hour; What but thy grace can foil thee tempters power? Who like Thyself, my guide and stay can be? Through cloud and sunshine Lord, Abide with me. No it was not the band or navy I recollect today, it’s the awesomeness of a song that is sung and played throughout the world, everywhere, all the time, and was even a favourite hymn of Gandhiji.
And yet the hymn had been written by a man who was 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 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 he put them on paper; and in less than an hour he had written one of the most beautiful and inspiring hymns of all time: A hymn that is known and loved all over the world – 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 that 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.
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