There followed some discussion about the origin of the hymn, and as to why it is associated with English football.
"It's American!" exclaimed one.
"No, it's English," contested Roger.
The lyrics are a poem composed by a Scot ...
|Henry Francis Lyte|
Lyte died in 1847 of tuberculosis three weeks after putting down his pen.
The melody that we all know is by William Henry Monk, an Englishman. He composed it in 1861 and entitled it Eventide.
So, why has it become traditional to sing it prior to a football match?
The story goes thus:
In 1927 there was a cup-final match between Arsenal and Cardiff City.
(Cardiff -1, Arsenal - nil ... long before the season of Mr Wenger.)
King George the Fifth was in attendance.
It was well-known that KGV's favourite hymn was Abide with Me, so the organisers arranged that the first and last verses should be sung from the terraces.
... and so it abides to this day.
The complete hymn is most commonly sung at funerals.
Fortunately, in 2015, no footballers died during the match ...
but Aston Villa were rubbish!