October 31 is Reformation Day, when Protestants keep the memory of their founder, Martin Luther, who started a brushfire on this day in 1517. Luther, a theology professor in Wittenberg, Germany, wanted to start a theological discussion among pilgrims who would come to Wittenberg for the Feast of All Saints. Luther meant to start a discussion. He ignited instead a conflagration that continues to burn. We have decided not to revisit the arguments, Luther’s or Rome’s. But we would like to take this opportunity to thank our Protestant brothers and sisters for the gift of a body of hymnody, because this hymnody enriches us all.
Luther meant to start a discussion. He ignited instead a conflagration that continues to burn.
From J.S Bach composing the St. Matthews Passion to Sam Cooke singing, “You Shall Wear a Crown,” we are grateful. For the common meter (easy to sing) and the uncommon lyrics (impossible to forget) of “Amazing Grace” we say, “Thank you.”
“Abide With Me,” written by Henry Francis Lyte in 1847, is a hymn every Christian should know. This one is a good choice for night prayer. Though you probably won’t find the complete text in most hymnals, there are eight verses. The inspiration for the hymn itself comes from Luke 24:29, with I Corinthians 15:55 as the particular inspiration for verse seven. Here’s the full 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.
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.
Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word;
But as Thou dwell’st with Thy disciples, Lord,
Familiar, condescending, patient, free.
Come not to sojourn, but abide with me.
Come not in terrors, as the King of kings,
But kind and good, with healing in Thy wings,
Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea—
Come, Friend of sinners, and abide with me.
Thou on my head in early youth didst smile;
And, though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee,
On to the close, O Lord, 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.
Listen below and thank a Protestant today: