One of my favorite hymns is “Abide with Me,” especially if I want to sing or hear something that is comforting. The hymn is often sung at funerals or at times of stress or trouble.
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.
Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.
“Abide with Me” was written in 1847 by Henry Francis Lyte, who was an Anglican divine in Scotland. He wrote the poem during the last months of his life as he was battling with tuberculosis and knew that his end was near. Lyte set the poem to music, but it is not the tune that is used today.
The tune that is used today was composed by William Henry Monk and is called “Eventide.” Monk set “Abide with Me” to the new tune in 1861 shortly after the death of his three year old daughter.
“Abide with Me” is not only sung at funerals and religious services, but also at Military services in several Commonwealth of Nations countries. The song is also sung at Football and Rugby championships in England.
Last night, “Abide with Me” was also sung at the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics. Unfortunately, here in the US we got to see an interview with Michael Phelps while Scottish singer Emeli Sandé gave a beautiful rendition of the hymn. I could not find a direct link to a video of the performance, but here is a link to an article on deadspin.com where it is embedded.
Several times during the broadcast last night the commentators were critical of the fact that a tribute to the Israeli athletes killed 40 years ago in Munich was not to be included in the Opening Ceremonies. Which makes it confusing to me that they would cut out a tribute to the victims of the 7/7 terror attacks that happened shortly after London was awarded the Olympic games.
The performance of “Abide with Me” was a great transitional moment in the ceremonies that was missed by one of the largest viewing audiences in the World. A beautiful transition from the well thought out historical retrospective to the athletes of today in the Parade of Nations. I was also disappointed with NBC during the Parade of Nations. Instead of concentrating on the incredible stories of hard work and sacrifice of the amateur athletes, they focused on the NBA athletes.
Even with these two gripes, I did enjoy the Opening Ceremonies. Especially the part with Rowan Atkinson and the arrival of Queen Elizabeth II.
Now to enjoy the games.
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