Sunday, 18 January 2015

I Know Very Little About Football…

…but I do know that before the Cup Final each year, the hymn “Abide with me” is sung- and has been since 1927. In recent years, a guest soloist has performed it – but the BBC has just announced that this year, it will be a choir made up of fans – one supporter from each of the 64 teams in Round One. Anyone can enter – BBC Songs of Praise are “looking for stories that reflect the personal memories and passion of the cup from every level of the game. Maybe witnessing giant killings, perhaps the first time your non-league team made the third round or the first time your team were in the final with tales of great players, key moments, unforgettable goals and family anecdotes.”


Scotsman Henry Francis Lyte wrote this hymn in 1847 as he was suffering from tuberculosis – he died three weeks after its completion. The original has eight verses- but most of the time, we just sing five of them at church. I’m not sure what you get at Wembley.

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, thus 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.

Since I heard about the BBC competition yesterday, I have been humming the hymn to myself – it is a shame it so often is only associated with football and funerals! I do like the line

Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.


  1. Yes, that line is lovely. I wish we sang more hymns at my new church, it is all modern worship songs with the odd upbeat rendition of a hymn.

  2. You just get the first two verses at the cup final. Usually a bit rubbish so is good idea to have a choir.


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