Thought for the Week - In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me
This coming Saturday we should have been looking forward to 139th FA Cup Final. Sadly due to the coronavirus it has been postponed to later in the year.
Football fans will have to wait to see who progresses through to the final. Whatever teams make it through, one thing will be sure, the proceedings will start with the traditional singing of the hymn, “Abide with me”. First featured at Wembley in 1927, “Abide with me” has become a treasured part of the traditional build up to the FA Cup Final ever since.
The story behind the hymn is remarkable. Reverend Henry Lyte, a Scottish born Anglican minister, was close to death when he composed it. Little did he know that in 21st Century, it would be sung at a football final with half a billion people watching from around the globe.
Although born in Scotland, Lyte was schooled at Portora Royal School in Enniskillen before attending Trinity College Dublin. He started his ministry in Wexford as a curate and ended up as Rector in Brixham, the small Devon fishing village where King William, Prince of Orange landed in 1688.
Tragically, his ministry was cut short at the age of 54, when he died of tuberculosis. Prior to his death, he revisited and revised a hymn which he had penned for a dying friend 27 years previously. His congregation sang it for the first time at his funeral in 1847. When Lyte breathed his last, his final words were “Peace! Joy!”
The joy and peace which Lyte enjoyed at the point of death, sprung from his personal relationship with God. In life, he had rooted himself in Christ, and he could testify to the Living Lord abiding with him. No wonder he wanted the Lord to abide with him in death.
In John’s Gospel Chapter 15, Jesus says, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”
As we travel through this strange season of lockdown, our prayer remains that of the hymnwriter, “In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me”.
By Wor. Bro. Rev. Stanley Gamble, Grand Chaplain