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Ednam Scotland

Near Kelso Scotland UK
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Information on the village of Ednam, near Kelso in Scotland.

Henry Francis Lyte

Born in Ednam West Mains on 1st June 1793, the son of Captain Thomas Lyte, a soldier who not being required to be at war had rented the West Mains, which was then known as 'The Cottage'. Thomas' near neighbour and friend was Samuel Robertson, Quaker and Brewer, with whom the Captain spent many happy times during his enforced idleness on half pay. Soon, however, his skills were once again required when he was called to be Adjutant of the Liverpool Fencibles. Young Henry spent his early years in Liverpool and Sligo, from which his father went off to war. Henry, along with his older brother Tom, was sent to school at Enniskillen, where he was looked after by Rev Robert Burrowes until he went off to Trinity College, Dublin in 1809, having won a bursary. In 1813 he won a scholarship. He had intended to study medicine, but changed to the Arts winning prizes for literature and poetry writing. He entered the ministry of the Church of Ireland, being appointed curate of Taghmon near Wexford in 1815.

Being of doubtful health, he took time off throughout his life to go to the warmer climate of the continent. In 1819, having married Anne, daughter of the Rev Dr William Maxwell, he moved to Lymington in Hampshire. At this time he published his first collection of poetry under the title 'Tales in Verse'.

Soon, however, he moved once again, to Devon, to South Dittisham, then, soon after the death of his infant daughter, there, to Charlton, near Kingsbridge. 1822 finds him in Lower Brixham which was to be his home for the rest of his life. He spent the rest of his days looking after the people there and writing psalms and hymns which these fisher folk sang in his church - physically he was weak but religiously he was exceedingly strong. He wrote a Manual of Devotion for them which they could take with them, on land or far out at sea, through which he could speak to them wherever they were.

He continued to write, publishing 'Tales in Verse: Ilustrative of the Ten Commandments' in 1826, 'Poems, Chiefly Religious' in 1833 and 'The Spirit of the Psalms' in 1834. After his death his daughter published a volume entitled rather gloomily 'Remains of the Rev HF Lyte'. A compilation of some of his earlier work was published in 1868. His health continuing to be poorl;y, he made repeated trips to the South of France and to Italy. His hymns, many of which are still in use today, include, 'God of Mercy, God of Grace', 'Praise my Soul the King of Heaven', 'Praise the Lord, His Glories Show' and Sweet is the solemn voice that calls'.

In 1847, his health failing, he wrote the immortal hymn by which we all know him, 'Abide with Me'.

He died on 20th November 1847, and is buried in Nice in Southern France.

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