Hymns as Prayers [Musician’s Corner]

Hymns as Prayers [Musician’s Corner]

The hymns we sing on Sunday mornings can also be read as prayers written during times of sorrow, distress, thanksgiving, joy, and celebration.

This week we will be looking at two hymns by Henry F. Lyte: “Abide with Me” and “Praise My Soul the King of Heaven.”

Henry Francis Lyte
The Rev. Henry Francis Lyte

The Reverend Henry Lyte

Reverend Henry Lyte, was the vicar of Lower Brixham, Devonshire, England, for twenty-three years. On September 4, 1847, he delivered his last sermon and was preparing to leave for Italy since his health continued to decline as a result of tuberculosis. It is reported he revised the poem “Abide with Me” prior to leaving Berry Head, an estate reportedly provided to him and his wife, Anne, by King Henry IV who so admired Lyte’s ministry. Stopping in Avignon, France, additional revisions were penned before mailing the finished text to his wife. On November 20, 1847, while staying at the Hotel de Angleterre in Nice, he died. He was attended by fellow clergyman, Reverend Manning of Chichester, who reported Henry’s final words were “Peace! Joy!”

“Abide with Me”

“Abide with Me” was sung for the first time during a memorial service for Rev. Lyte in Brixham.

Usually sung at Eventide, the text would be especially appropriate during the difficult times in our lives. It is a reminder that through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Christ abides in us and we in him.

Abide with Me
Text by Henry F. Lyte, Music: W.H. Monk

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 Lord who changes not, abide with me.
I need your presence every passing hour
What but your grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who like yourself my guide and strength can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, O abide with me.

I fear no foe with you at hand to bless,
Though ills have weight, and tears their bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, your victory?
I triumph still, if you abide with me.

During his twenty-three years as Rector of Brixham, Reverend Lyte wrote many of his beloved hymns and poems. “Jesus, I my Cross Have taken”, “God of Mercy, God of Grace”, Abide with Me” and “Praise my Soul, the King of Heaven”.

“Praise My Soul the King of Heaven”

This beloved hymn is from a collection of Lyte hymns published in 1834. Queen Elizabeth II (Princess Elizabeth) chose this hymn of praise to be sung at her wedding on November 20, 1947, the one-hundredth anniversary of Lyte’s death.

It is based on Psalm 103:1 Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name

“Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven”
Text: Henry F, Lyte, Music: John Goss

Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven;
To His feet thy tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Evermore His praises sing:
Praise Him, praise Him, alleluia!
Praise the everlasting King.

Praise Him for His grace and favor
To our fathers in distress;
Praise Him still the same as ever,
Slow to chide, and swift to bless.
Praise Him, praise Him, alleluia!
Glorious in His faithfulness.

Fatherlike He tends and spares us,
Well our feeble frame He knows;
In His hands He gently bears us,
Rescues us from all our foes.
Praise Him, praise Him, alleluia!
Widely yet His mercy flows.

Frail as summer’s flow’r we flourish,
Blows the wind and it is gone;
But while mortals rise and perish,
Our God lives unchanging on.
Praise Him, praise Him, alleluia!
Praise the high Eternal One!

Angels, help us to adore Him,
Ye behold Him face to face;
Sun and moon, bow down before Him;
Dwellers all in time and space,
Praise Him, praise Him, alleluia!
Praise with us the God of grace.


Wilson Troxell - organist - St Andrews
Wilson Troxell – Parish Music Director/Organist