"JESUS, WITH THY CHURCH ABIDE"
"I will declare Thy name unto My brethren, in the midst of the Church will I sing praise unto Thee" (Heb. 2.12)
INTRO.: A song which asks that Jesus abide in the midst of His church is "Jesus, With Thy Church Abide." The text was written by Thomas Benson Pollock (1836-1896). It was first published in the 1871 Appendix to his Metrical Litanies for Special Services and General Use. Originally in eighteen stanzas, it was rewritten for the 1875 revised edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern. A "litany" is a ceremonial song with a series of supplications and a common response, such as "We beseech Thee, hear us." Albert Bailey said, "No one can dispute the rightness and urgency of most of these petitions." The tune (Hervey’s Litany) most often used with this song was composed by Frederick Alfred John Hervey, who was born on May 18, 1846, the son of Lord Alfred Hervey. Educated at Marlborough and Trinity College, Cambridge, from which he received the B. A. in 1868 and the B. A. in 1872, he became a minister in the Church of England.
After serving at Upton-Pyne from 1876 to 1878 and Sandringham from 1878 to 1907, Hervey also became Canon of Norwich and Domestic Chaplain to King Edward VII. This tune is dated 1875. Hervey died Aug. 8, 1910, at Norwich, England. The harmony comes from The Hymnal of 1941. Another tune (Litany of the Passion), which was originally set to another poem by John Bacchus Dykes, is sometimes used. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the only one to include this hymn was the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater, with a tune (Gower’s Litany) composed by John Henry Gower and more commonly used with Pollock’s "Father, Hear Thy Children’s Call."
The song asks for Jesus’s blessings upon the church.
I. Stanza 1 asks that Jesus be with the church
"Jesus, with Thy Church abide, Be her Savior, Lord, and Guide,
While on earth her faith is tried: We beseech Thee, hear us."
A. Jesus has promised to abide with His people as long as they abide in Him: Jn. 15.4-7
B. We should abide in Him because He is our Savior, Lord, and Guide: Lk. 2.11
C. We need Him to abide with us because on earth our faith will be tried: 1 Pet. 5.7
II. Stanza 2 asks that the church’s voice be clear
"May her voice be ever clear, Warning of a judgment near,
Telling of a Savior dear: We beseech Thee, hear us."
A. Unless her voice is clear and certain, people will not be able to hear correctly: 1 Cor. 14.7-8
B. Her voice must warn of the judgment to come: Acts 17.30-31
C. She must also tell of a Savior who will help mankind prepare for this judgment: 1 Tim. 1.15
III. Stanza 3 asks that the church be a good influence in the world
"May she guide the poor and blind, Seek the lost until she find,
And the broken hearted bind: We beseech Thee, hear us."
A. The church serves as a guide to the poor and blind because it is the pillar and ground of the truth: 1 Tim. 3.16
B. The church seeks the lost because she follows Jesus who came for that purpose: Lk. 19.10
C. She binds the broken hearted by proclaiming the message of Jesus to the world: Lk. 4.18
IV. Stanza 4 asks that the church be a light to the world
"May her lamp of truth be bright, Bid her bear aloft its light
Through the realms of pagan (heathen) night: We beseech Thee, hear us."
A. The lamp of truth is the word of God which the church preaches: Ps. 119.105
B. When Christians live according to this word, they let their lights shine before the world: Matt. 5.14-16
C. This is the only way to pierce the darkness of sin in the world: Jn. 3.19
V. Stanza 5 asks that the church be triumphant
"May she holy triumphs win, Overthrow the hosts of sin,
Gather all the nations in: We beseech Thee, hear us."
A. God has promised His people victory: 1 Jn. 5.4
B. Victory is achieved every time the hosts of sin are overthrown in bringing a lost one to the Lord: Jas. 5.20
C. This is the method that God has ordained for gathering all the nations in and bringing may sons to glory: Heb. 2.10
VI. Stanza 6 asks that the church be blessed by Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
"May the grace of Him who died, And the Father’s love abide,
And the Spirit ever guide: We beseech Thee, hear us."
A. We surely need the grace of Him who died: Rev. 21.22
B. We also need the Father’s love to abide in us: Jude v. 21
C. And we need the guidance of the Spirit, whose sword is the word of God: Eph. 6.18
CONCL.: Other stanzas which I have seen in various sources that I have are as follows:
"Keep her life and doctrine pure, Help her, patient, to endure,
Trusting in Thy promise sure: We beseech Thee, hear us."
"All her fettered powers release, Bid our strife and envy cease,
Grant the gift of heavenly peace: We beseech Thee, hear us."
"Save her love from growing cold, Make her watchmen strong and bold,
Fence her round, Thy peaceful fold: We beseech Thee, hear us."
"May her scattered children be From reproach of evil free,
Blameless witnesses for Thee: We beseech Thee, hear us."
"Arm her soldiers with the cross, Brave to suffer toil or loss,
Counting earthy gain but loss: We beseech Thee, hear us."
"May she one in doctrine be, One in truth and charity,
Winning all to faith in Thee: We beseech Thee, hear us."
"Judge her not for work undone, Judge her not for fields unwon,
Bless her works in Thee begun: We beseech Thee, hear us."
"May her priests Thy people feed, Shepherds of the flock indeed,
Ready, where Thou call’st, to lead: We beseech Thee, hear us."
"All that she has lost, restore; May her strength and zeal be more
Than in brightest days of yore: We beseech Thee, hear us."
"Raise her to her calling high, Let the nations far and nigh
Hear Thy heralds’s warning cry: We beseech Thee, hear us."
"May she thus all glorious be, Spotless and from wrinkle free,
No one hymnbook in my collection contains all these stanzas, but as I checked different books, each one had some combination drawn from those found above. Because the church was built by Christ, purchased with His own blood, and He adds the saved to it as His spiritual body, it should certainly be our desire to plead, "Jesus, With Thy Church Abide."