Dearest Members of Bethlehem,
“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, oh, abide with me.” Abide with Me, ELW #629
Hymns are glorious… the classics that have been passed along to us never get old. Even after all these years, these hymns still have something to say, they have something to teach us.
This is certainly the case with the hymn that appears above. The tune is so captivating it would be easy to skip right over the lyrics, but the words are worth pondering.
We don’t use the word “eventide” all that often these days, but the word beautifully captures the complexity of the end of the day. The busyness, the distractions have all reached their logical conclusions, and now… well, it’s just us and our thoughts, and the memories from the day. Some days we are exhausted, maybe even contented. And other times, these quiet moments can be daunting, and seem so lonely… and so the prayer ascends, “Abide with me,” stick with me, stay by my side, especially now as the “darkness” deepens.
“Darkness” is a word filled to overflowing with meaning. There is an absence of light, the world - to a certain extent - closes in around us, we can’t see as clearly as we once did. Darkness can shake our confidence. The antidote to darkness in all its forms is light.
And of course, we need a source of light that cannot be extinguished. When other helpers let us down, when the comfortable life that we had been working so hard to achieve eludes us… just when hope teeters and we seem beyond help; we know there is One who hears the tenderness of our prayer, this One is the, “Help of the helpless.” What a glorious piece of writing!
I can’t know the depth of your disappointments. I simply can’t grasp the intensity of your anxiety. I am not entirely sure what it is that causes your heart to ache and keeps you up at night. What I do know is that Henry F. Lyte captured something profound in this life-giving hymn; we truly need a Savior, so God gave us one. The trials and travails of life will continue to come our way, but we can rest assured that through the power of the Spirit, Christ is our constant companion.
Question for reflection: What hymn always manages to stir your spiritual imagination?
Yours in Christ,
Gracious Lord, your strength and wisdom are all we need to lead lives of courageous faith and inspired service. As we seek to connect with those in need, as we work for justice, abide with us that we would truly sense your presence. We pray this all in Jesus’ name, Amen.