I know this is not a Christmas song but…one of Christ’s names is Immanuel which means Christ with us. I’ve always loved the concept of abiding…”settle down and make yourself at home”…which I believe is very critical to our developing an intimate relationship with Christ. He talks about it in John 15, encouraging us to “become” comfortable with Him. This hymn also encourages closeness. It was written by Henry Lyte in 1847,shortly before his own home-going.It has been a hymn of great consolation and encouragement ever since. Pastor Lyte was a sickly man but a very spiritual one. He suffered from asthma and tuberculosis. Despite his poor health, he was a tireless worker with a reputation as a poet, musician and minister. This is the man who coined the phase,”it is better to wear out than to rust out.” He pastored for years in Devonshire, England but the climate caused his health to deteriorate and he moved to southern Italy where it was warmer. It is said for his last sermon to his poor parishioners, he literally had to crawl to the pulpit, but he did, and exhorted them to prepare themselves for the solemn hour when they too would join their precious Lord. He stressed the concept of ABIDING IN CHRISTON A CONTINUING BASIS. It is said he wrote this beautiful hymn just before he died, was sung infrequently in England at the time. In 1855 Henry Ward Beecher wrote a collection of hymns and noted that this one should be “read and not sung.” Later, a man named William Henry Monk , a music editor of a well-known Anglican Church Hymnal and included in the first edition of that hymnal published in 1861.
William Monk personally contributed fifty original tunes for the hymnal. In addition to his work as editor of this hymnal, considered by hymnologists to be one of the most important hymnals ever published. Additionally, he was choir director and organist at King’s College, London.
Henry Lyte’s text for this hymn was taken from the account of Christ’s walk with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and their statement, “Abide with us for it is toward evening and the day is spent,” Lk 24:29. Another of his hymns is “Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken.
I love the idea of God desiring us to abide with Him…not so much in a physical place but in the heart…to be so comfortable with him that we sense His nearness and we begin to “talk” with Him continually…the Scripture says to “pray without ceasing…” and I believe that is what is meant here. We abide with our spouse, we’ve gotten use to him/her and enjoy and look forward to being with him/her. Comfortable with the Lord and it CAN be attained along with contentment and rest…qualities that saints should aspire to and work toward. God desires us to be whole emotionally, and as we work on these concepts, emotional wholeness becomes a reality and we can rest in His desire and ability to care for us. Abide…what a beautiful word.