Posted by: rcottrill | January 2, 2017

Abide with Me, ‘Tis Eventide

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Words: Martin Lowrie Hofford (b. Jan. 27, 1823; d. Jan. 7, 1888)
Music: Millard, by Harrison Millard (b. Nov. 27, 1829; d. Sept. 10, 1895)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: In 1884, an American Presbyterian clergyman named Martin Hofford published this beautiful hymn about the meeting of the resurrected Christ with a couple of His followers. The hymn is a favourite of the Mormons, though Hofford was not one of them.

To say “Good night” to someone is a custom that has been around for hundreds of years. And it usually implies a time of parting. The speaker is bidding farewell to some individual or a group. Research suggests the words are possibly a contraction of, “May God give you a good night,” a night of refreshing sleep, and safety from harm.

It’s our Creator who established the division of night and day. The Bible tells us:

“God said, ‘Let there be light;’ and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day” (Gen. 1:3-5).

It’s only the omnipotent God who can create something out of nothing (ex nihilo), simply by His almighty word of command.

“By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth…. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (Ps. 33:6, 9).

Though there are exceptions–individuals such as nurses and police officers that work a night shift–the general rule is that “Man goes out to his work and to his labour until the evening” (Ps. 104:23). Especially in ancient times, activities such as work and travel were usually circumscribed by the daylight hours between sunrise and sunset.

There is, in the Bible (in Luke 24:13-32) the record of an unusual meeting that happened as night was approaching.

The Lord Jesus had been crucified days before, but many believers were not yet aware of His resurrection. Two followers of Christ were on their way from Jerusalem to the little village of Emmaus where they lived. We don’t know if these were two men, or a man and his wife. We know only that one of the two was a man named Cleopas (vs. 18). There is a tradition (without proof) that Cleopas is the same person as the one called Clopas in John 19:25. If that’s so, then the other person here is his wife, a woman named Mary.

As they walked along, the two were discussing what had happened in Jerusalem, specifically the death of Christ. Then the Lord Jesus joined them, but their sight was supernaturally controlled so they did not recognize their divine Companion (vs. 16). When He asked what they’d been talking about, they were surprised that even a Stranger had been in that area and seemed not to have heard about the crucifixion of “Jesus of Nazareth” (vs. 19-20).

Their hopes for the future were dashed when He was cruelly put to death. They’d heard rumours of a resurrection, but apparently they did not yet believe it. “Then He said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?’” (vs. 25-26).

With that, Jesus began a Bible lesson, ranging through the Old Testament Scriptures, to show them that His coming was prophesied there, as well as both His death and future glorious reign (vs. 27).

By that time, they’d reached Emmaus, and it was getting dark. So the two said, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent” (vs. 29). With that invitation, He went in to stay with them for awhile, and a meal was served. Mysteriously Christ seems to have acted as the Host at that meal. He was the One who broke the bread as they ate (vs. 30).

In that moment, their sight was restored. They recognized Him (perhaps recalling when He did something similar at the feeding of the five thousand, Luke 9:16), and instantly He vanished. “And they said to one another, ‘Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?’” (vs. 32). That is the basis for Hofford’s beautiful hymn.

CH-1) Abide with me, ’tis eventide!
The day is past and gone;
The shadows of the evening fall;
The night is coming on!
Within my heart a welcome Guest,
Within my home abide.

O Saviour, stay this night with me;
Behold, ’tis eventide!
O Saviour, stay this night with me;
Behold, ’tis eventide!

CH-2) Abide with me, ’tis eventide!
Thy walk today with me
Has made my heart within me burn,
As I communed with Thee.
Thy earnest words have filled my soul
And kept me near Thy side.

Questions:
1) Is the Lord Jesus a “welcome Guest” in your heart and life?

2) When was the last time your heart burned (you were blessed in a special way) in the study of God’s Word?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org


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