Contest Winner: “Stay This Night with Me”

We face many battles throughout our lives, but we can be strengthened through the power of music.

While suffering is requisite and inevitable during mortality, solitary suffering is not.

Photo by Clarissa Meyer

Martin Lowrie Hofford, a first lieutenant in the Union military, served in the American Civil War until he was seriously wounded in 1863. Through the gloomy lens of mortality, Hofford witnessed death, sorrow, fear, and division sweep the nation. In the years following the war, he wrote the lyrics to “Abide with Me; ’Tis Eventide,” his plea for the Savior to stay with him  during the darkness.

While we may not be fighting a civil  war, we each have intense personal battles  throughout our lives. One of mine came during my final semester of college. As I faced growing responsibilities as well as the looming uncertainty of my future, my mental health deteriorated, and I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

At first, I shrugged off the diagnosis and thought sheer willpower and positivity would fix everything. But I soon felt overpowered by extreme depression during the day and hypomanic episodes during the night. I was terrified  as my  mental state worsened—my  depression seemed to create an impenetrable darkness that intensified the severity of my fears.

One  particular night, my despair was so acute that it hurt to move, and I felt like my brain would explode. I felt alone, knowing that there was little anyone could do to help me. I wanted to give up.  I prayed to Heavenly Father for help. I decided to play hymns on my phone, but I wasn’t really listening until I heard the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s rendition of “Abide with Me; ’Tis Eventide.”

The  connections  between my depression and the  poignant words of the hymn  seemed  miraculous. My day had “past and gone,” and “the shadows of the evening [fell]” on my mental health. I feared that “the darkness of the world . . . would in my home abide.” The hymn’s chorus perfectly articulated my  heavenly petition  that night: “O Savior, stay this night with me; Behold, ’tis eventide.”

That night, I experienced my lowest  earthly moment. But in retrospect, I see how the Lord strengthened my spirit.  Hearing the hymn didn’t  remove my despair, nor did it hasten daybreak. However, it taught me that while suffering  is inevitable during mortality, solitary suffering is not. We are never alone, for the Savior accompanies us during our bleakest hours and darkest nights.  One day, when we reflect on the experiences that tested our souls, we’ll think with gratitude of how Jesus Christ “kept [us] near [his] side.”

Listen to and read the hymn “Abide with Me; ’Tis Eventide.” 

Source: LDS Hymnbook

—Bekki Hood, Mormon Insights contributor

feature image by leon biss

Find more insights

When facing challenges in life, find strength through reading Elder Richard J. Maynes’s talk “The Strength to Endure.

Stay strong in these latter days by reading “Finding Strength in Challenging Times!” by Elder Allan F. Packer.

Read or watch President Thomas S. Monson’s talk “We Never Walk Alone” to be reassured that God is always with us.

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One Comment

  1. Mormon Insights

    Thank you for sharing your story. That is such an important thing to remember: suffering may be inevitable in this mortal life, but how blessed we are that we never have to do it alone!

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