This beautiful hymn references the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They are walking, discussing the recent events surrounding the Savior’s crucifixion and resurrection, when, unbeknownst to them, the resurrected Saviour joins them on their journey. “But their eyes were holden that they should not know him” (Luke 24:16).
Jesus asks them what they are discussing. Surprised that he is not aware of the recent events in Jerusalem, they suppose him to be a stranger to the area. They describe the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ ministry and crucifixion and say, “But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done” (Luke 24:21).
The men approached their village of Emmaus and, when Jesus appeared to be continuing on, they entreated him, “Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them (Luke 24:29).
As they were having supper together, “their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight” (Luke 24:31).
Abide with Me
Although generally expected to be soothing and restful, night time can occasionally be lonely and frightening. Our prayers in those hours may be more urgent than prayers in the daytime when we have plenty of distractions and don’t find ourselves alone with our thoughts – and alone with our imaginations!
Verse one of ABIDE WITH ME; ‘TIS EVENTIDE speaks of the “welcome guest” that the Saviour is in those night time hours, just as the Saviour himself was a welcome guest in that home in Emmaus. Verse two speaks of “Thy walk today with me has made my heart within me burn, as I communed with thee.” The men of Emmaus spoke almost those same words, “Did not our heart[s] burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? (Luke 24:32). Verse three describes the immense loneliness we feel if we “cannot commune with thee nor find in thee [our] light.”
The chorus of this hymn is a poignant pleading to the Saviour to stay the night. The notes of the word “Savior” soar to a D and then then to an E as the heartfelt request is made twice: “O Savior, stay this night with me; Behold, ’tis eventide.”
Congregation Choir Arrangements
Our Congregation Choir arrangements add a beautiful, enhanced piano accompaniment to the original SATB found in the hymnbook. This enhanced piano accompaniment could be used with the SATB for a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or for a large choir. It could also be used alone as a more embellished accompaniment for a solo singer or group, or just to enjoy as a piano solo.
Listen to our arrangements below. You will first hear just the organ doing the introduction. The piano joins in on the first verse and then the countermelody (vocal in one; violin in the other) joins in for the second demonstration verse.
Congregation Choir arrangement with vocal countermelody. PURCHASE HERE.
Congregation Choir arrangement with violin countermelody. PURCHASE HERE.
The companionship of the Saviour is indeed a wonderful thing. It is a comfort and solace at some times – particularly at eventide. It can enlighten and expand our understanding at other times. “The darkness of the world, I fear, would in my home abide” (verse 3) without it.
In his talk at the conclusion of the April 2002 General Conference, President Hinckley quoted the first verse and chorus of ABIDE WITH ME; ’TIS EVENTIDE and said:
“That pretty well sums up the feelings of our hearts as we return to our homes.
May the Spirit of our Lord accompany us and remain with us. We know not what lies ahead of us. We know not what the coming days will bring. We live in a world of uncertainty. For some, there will be great accomplishment. For others, disappointment. For some, much of rejoicing and gladness, good health, and gracious living. For others, perhaps sickness and a measure of sorrow. We do not know. But one thing we do know. Like the polar star in the heavens, regardless of what the future holds, there stands the Redeemer of the world, the Son of God, certain and sure as the anchor of our immortal lives. He is the rock of our salvation, our strength, our comfort, the very focus of our faith.” (President Gordon B. Hinckley: “We Look to Christ,” General Conference April 2002)