Monday, May 23, 2011

A hymn that softened the hatred of war

(Top): Grave of Rev. H.F. Lyte
[Holy Trinity Church, Nice]
Photo: Jacques, husband of Cathie Fidler (Lefebvre)

(Bottom): McGuinness family headstone
[Whitehaven Cemetery, Ward 5, Section K]
Photo: Joseph Ritson

During the quiet moments after the fighting in North Africa and Italy Sergeant Patrick (Pat) McGuinness, 7th Queen’s Own Hussars, used to lead the men of his company in song. To soften the hatred caused by war, Pat would finish each night’s sing-song with the hymn “Abide With Me” by Rev. Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847).

For additional information click on ‘Comments’ below.


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Further photographs and information about Pat McGuinness

Sergeant Pat McGuinness was killed by a teenage sniper on hillside at Ancona, Italy on 17 July 1944. Pat had taken the place of his officer who had refused to obey an order to personally check an area for snipers. At the time of his death, Pat was 38 years old.

To read a previous article I wrote about the circumstances of how Pat McGuinness was shot and to see his photograph :

Click here

To read the article I wrote about Sergeant Pat McGuinness for the BBC "People's War" website on behalf of his daughter Mrs Frances McAlone:

Click here

To see a photograph of Pat's nephew, Pte Hugh McGuinness visiting Pat's grave at Ancona, and further information about the McGuinness family in WW2:

Click here

CWGC citation for Sgt Pat McGuinness:

In Memory of Serjeant PATRICK McGUINNESS

3593603, 7th Queen's Own Hussars, Royal Armoured Corps

who died age 38 on 17 July 1944

Son of John Henry and Catherine McGuinness, of Whitehaven, Cumberland.

Husband of Hilda McGuinness, of Whitehaven.

Remembered with honour ANCONA WAR CEMETERY (Grave Ref: IV. H. 19).

(There are 964 graves maintained by the Commission at Ancona).

Monday, 23 May, 2011  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

At a recent event arranged by the Cumbria Archives and Local History Library I was given a newspaper cutting by another WW2 researcher, Mr Frank Lewthwaite of Whitehaven. Some years earlier Frank had been given this cutting by Mrs Pauline Parr (nee McGuinness) daughter of Sergeant Pat McGuinness and Mrs Hilda McGuinness.

I understand it originally appeared in 'The Whitehaven News' in 1947. It deals with the importance of the hymn "Abide with me" by Reverend Henry Francis Lyte, M.A. to Pauline's father and his company during the war while they were in North Africa and Italy. Below is the transcript of that article:


A Whitehaven Story

The Rev H.J. Garland of Millom is writing the centenary story of the beloved hymn "Abide With Me". A correspondent in Scotland, Mr J.M. Hall, has contributed the following incident:

"In the World War I was a tank driver and went from El Alamein to Tunis. Later I was sent to Egypt and posted to the 7th Hussars. There arrived as a sergeant a very well-built man, with honest eyes, full of life and possessing a strong, deep, voice.

He was the life of the company, a man about 35 from Whitehaven: Mr McGuinness. He had a wife and family. He was overflowing with kindness, very fond of music, and loved by all. He was a devout Roman Catholic, a splendid example of his religious faith, a model for all Christians.

Leaving Egypt we arrived in Italy where 'Mac', as we called him, got hold of an old flute. Every night at twilight we had a sing-song led by our flutist - always closing with "Abide With Me". Our company numbered four tanks and 64 members of the crews. It was most impressive the way we sang this beautiful hymn, the deep male voices, the sweet notes of the lute, in the stillness of the Italian night.

It linked us with the distant homeland, which some of the company realised they would never see again. It helped to soften the hatred caused by war. Many of us were humming it during the day and it had an ennobling influence upon our lives.

Even when driving my tank into action I was helped by the words, 'To fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless'.

In a few weeks 'Mac' and many of his comrades were killed in action. Although a Roman Catholic, our Padre buried him after conducting a short service over the graves of the fallen.

The flute was silenced. But, at the memorial service for the departed we sang in memory of 'Mac': 'Abide With Me, fast falls the eventide'. The hymn will ever remain my favourite, and will always have an uplifting influence."

Monday, 06 June, 2011  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

The lyrics of "Abide With Me"
By Reverend Henry Francis Lyte, M.A. (1793 - 1847)
"Abide with me"

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see—
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour;
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Reverend Henry Francis Lyte, M.A.
(A few biographical details)

Henry Francis Lyte (1793 - 1847) was born in the village of Ednam, near Kelso, in Scotland, on the 1st June 1793, the second son of Captain Thomas Lyte (Royal Marines) and Mrs Anna Maria Lyte (nee Oliver). As with many 'second sons', Henry Francis Lyte became a clergyman. He obtained a B A degree (Trinity College Dublin, Ireland) in 1814 and was ordained in 1815. His first appointment was as a curate at St. Munn's (a Protestant Church) in Taghmon.

Reverend Lyte later moved to SW England where he met and married Anne Maxwell (daughter of Reverend William Maxwell of Monaghan) and married at Bath in 1818. He returned to Trinity College, Dublin and obtained his M.A in 1820. Reverend Lyte spent 23 years in a parish at Brixham, Devon. In 1847 Henry Francis Lyte wrote the hymn "Abide with me" while suffering from tuberculosis (TB). He also travelled to the south of France for his health, which is where he died on 20 November 1847 (at the Hotel d'Angleterre). Two days later, on 22 November 1847 Reverend Lyte was buried in the English Cemetery of Holy Trinity Church, Nice.

The music most often used with the hymn "Abide with me" "Eventide" composed by William Henry Monk in 1861. It is a popular hymn at Remembrance services, and is also sung at the English F.A. Cup Final, the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final and other sporting events.

The inspiration for the "Abide With Me" comes from the text of St Luke's Gospel:

"Abide with us, for it is toward eventide" (Luke 24:29).

This is from the account of the events on the 'Road to Emmaus' after the Resurrection. The request was made by the two disciples to Risen Christ after reaching the village of Emmaus that he should stay with them.

Monday, 06 June, 2011  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

The photograph of the grave of Reverend Henry Francis Lyte in the churchyard of Holy Trinity Church, Nice, France was contributed by Catherine Fidler (Lefebvre). The actual photographer was Catherine's husband Jacques.

The epitaph written on the flat slab beneath the white cross reads as follows:-

"Here rests the mortal remains of the Revd. Henry Francis Lyte, MA for 23 years Minister of Lower Brixham in the County of Devon. Born on the 1st June, 1793,died on the 20th November, 1847.

'God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.' Gal. 6-14.

Author of 'Abide with Me, fast falls the eventide'."

Although Sgt Pat McGuinness was buried at Ancona, Italy he is also commemorated on the headstone in Whitehaven Cemetery where his wife, daughter and son-in-law are buried. The epitaph on the headstone in Whitehaven Cemetery (seen in one of the photographs above) reads as follows:-

"Treasured memories of Hilda, died 28th November 1976, aged 70 years.

A dear Mam and beloved wife of Sgt. Pat McGuinness, killed in Italy 1944, aged 38 years.

Johnny Parr, died 22nd August 1986, aged 50 years.
A dear Dad & devoted husband of Pauline, died 23rd December 2001, aged 67 years.

Sadly missed."


1. Mr Frank Lewthwaite

2. Mrs Frances McAlone (nee McGuinness)

3. Cumbria Archives and Local History Library Service

4. 'The Whitehaven News'

5. A special thanks to Cathie & Jacques for the photograph and some of the information about Holy Trinity Church, Nice.

Monday, 06 June, 2011  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Click on the following link to listen to 'Abide With Me' sung by the Antrim Mennoinite Choir:

Abide With Me sung by the Antrim Mennonite Choir


Tuesday, 08 November, 2016  

Post a Comment

<< Home