Why do I sigh to find
Life's evening shadows gathering round my way?
The keen eye dimming, and the buoyant mind
Unhinging day by day?
(Declining Days, 1-4)
Henry Francis Lyte was born on June 1, 1793, at Ednam, Scotland, and educated at Portora Royal School, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh (the alma mater of Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett, in Northern Ireland) and Trinity College, Dublin, where he won the Chancellor's Prize for English verse three years in a row, and from which he graduated in 1814. After being ordained in the Church of England, Lyte became a minister in Marazion, Cornwall, in 1817. He and Anne Maxwell wed on Jan. 21, 1818, and they set up house in Lymington. He published Tales in Verse in 1826, the first of his three volumes of poetry. By 1823 Lyte had become curate at All Saints Church in Lower Brixham, Devonshire. Dublin in 1830, and Oxford in 1834, granted him Master's degrees, but the one memorable "spirit-moving lay" that Lyte confessed, in his poem "Declining Days," he so longed to write in 1839 finally came to him in the days preceding his last sermon in late summer 1847. "Abide with Me" is a hymn universally beloved for memorial services and is sung annually by tens of thousands at the Football Association Cup Final at Wembley Stadium before the kick-off (beginning in 1927, at the suggestion of King George V). Lyte died on Nov. 20, 1847, at Nice, France, and is interred in the English Cemetery there. Three sons and a daughter survived him. One hundred years later, a tablet bearing his name, dates, and the first line of his greatest poem was placed in Westminister Abbey.
Given name: Henry Francis
Family name: Lyte
Birth date: 1 June 1793
Death date: 20 November 1847
wife: Anne Maxwell Lyte (from 21 January 1818)
Portora Royal School, Enniskillen, North. Ireland (degree not known)
Trinity College, Dublin (B.A.) to 1814
Oxford University (M.A.) to 1834
Trinity College, Dublin (M.A.) to 1830
Literary period: Victorian
Occupation: Minister: 1817 to 1847
Ednam, Scotland: 1793
Marazion, Cornwall: 1817 to 1818
Lymington, England: 1818 to 1823
Lower Brixham, Devonshire, England: 1823
Buried at: English Cemetery, Nice, France
First RPO edition: 2001