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By: Curtis Schofield, Spiritual Insight


A deep sadness had settled on Henry Lyte. He sat in his family living room. For the last 24 years this room had been such a wonderful place. He thought of the many members of the church, he had served, who had been guests of his family. Many had been so faithful in standing with him these last 27 years while he was their pastor. They had brought such joy and laughter to this house. As he sat there all alone, he was asking, “Where have all the years gone? It was such a wonderful experience! Why am I so sad?”

Today he had just served the last communion to this wonderful church family. He had always planned to serve here longer. But life does not always go as we plan. Recently, his doctor had given him bad news. The only way he could prolong his life was to leave the heavy atmosphere of Brixham, England, and find a drier climate.

He walked through the garden that had given him so much relaxation and peace. Often he had come here to share with his Heavenly Father praise for the wonders of living. Often he prayed here for others and found assurance for answered prayers.

He walked to his beloved seashore, a place that would soon be his experience no more. It was here he had composed many delightful poems to illustrate great truths. At this moment he was thinking, “Will I ever be able to have the feeling of excitement of the love and goodness of life, enough to be able to compose another poem?” Some thoughts began to go through his tormented mind.

Without realizing what has going on with him he was trying to make some sense out of the helplessness and grief he was experiencing. As a sense of the presence of death was biting at his heels, he cried out to the Savior, “Jesus help me to clarify what I am feeling at this moment.” A phrase came to him as if it was spoken audibly, “help of the helpless.” He asked, “Lord, why am I hearing ‘help of the helpless?’” The answer came, “Because you are identifying with what every person feels in this solemn hour.” Suddenly, Henry no longer felt alone.

Quickly he returned to his study. There he wrote out the words to “Abide With Me, Fast Falls the Eventide.” In his moment of greatest loss, the Living Christ gave him the lines of a hymn that was a gift, not only to him, but also to the whole world.

He left for the south of France, and soon after his arrival in Nice his strength failed him, and while whispering the words, “Peace! Joy!” And pointing upward, as he died. His helper nurse, Cavell, stood by his side and uttered the end of the great hymn, “Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee; in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me!”

Curtis Schofield is a retired minister residing on Sand Mountain. Contact him at (423) 413-5653. Read more of Schofield’s stories on

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