The Rev. Geoffrey Butcher, Priest-in-charge Trinity Episcopal Church, Russellville

A beloved hymn in the Christian repertoire is "Abide with me." Henry Lyte's text for this hymn was taken from the account of Christ's appearance with the two disciples on the way to Emmaus and their statement, "Abide with us; for it is toward evening and day is far spent." (Luke 24:29) And for us, the text is a call that the Lord would be with us in our own darkness, "when other helpers fail and comforts flee," to help us when we feel helpless.

This hymn is often sung at funerals when families and friends are grieving the loss of a loved one. They need a sense of God's presence when all around them they see "change and decay," and need the Lord's spirit to surround them in their loss.

The hymn ends with hope asking that God would "shine thru the gloom and point me to the skies." There is trust that God will be present with us "In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me!"

The music for the text, written by William H. Monk, fits the text beautifully. It is said of Monk that "He was inspired by the beauty of a glorious sunset while yet experiencing a deep personal sorrow."

Here are four stanzas of the text:

"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, O abide with me.

I need thy presence every passing hour; what but thy grace can foil the tempter's power? Who, like thyself, my guide and stay can be? Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with thee at hand to bless; ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness. Where is death's sting? where, grave, thy victory? I triumph still, if thou abide with me.

Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes; shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies; heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee; in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me."