Why Abide With Me is sung at the FA Cup final and who is singing it

Manchester City and Manchester United lock horns once again at Wembley this afternoon in a high-stakes clash for the FA Cup Final, one of the oldest football tournaments globally holding its tradition-rich status.

Serving as an electrifying common ground for two of the fiercest rivals in football history, this year's tournament carries heightened anticipation.

Before the curtain raises on the much-awaited game, there is another cherished tradition - the hymn 'Abide With Me'. Sung under the arch about 15 minutes before kick-off, it sets the tone for the forthcoming battle.

Today, it will be delivered by the British operatic singer Malakai Bayoh, with the national anthem to be performed by the award-winning vocalist and songwriter Zara McFarlane, and British Sign Language interpreters will provide translations of both moments for fans.

This Christian hymn was penned by Scottish Anglican cleric Henry Francis Lyte as a prayer requesting God's company throughout life and death. Set to William Henry Monk's harmony-tuned Eventide, the hymn offers several alternate renditions.

Lyte crafted this hymn while he battled tuberculosis in his final days. Three weeks post-completion, he passed away, and the hymn debut at his funeral service.

Its connection with the FA Cup final goes back to 1927, when Cardiff City secured a 1-0 victory against Arsenal. Since then, it has become an indispensable part of the tournament, with spectators describing the collective singing of the hymn as "an unforgettable and indescribable experience for us all".

The song was chosen as an attempt to bring both sets of supporters together in unison before kick-off.

Abide with Me has also been sung prior to the kick-off at every Rugby League Challenge Cup Final since 1929, while it also featured in the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics, with Emeli Sande singing it as a tribute to the victims of the 7/7 terrorist attacks.

Abide With Me lyrics in full

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, O 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.

Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word,
But as Thou dwell'st with Thy disciples, Lord,
Familiar, condescending, patient, free.
Come not to sojourn, but abide with me.

Come not in terror, as the King of kings,
But kind and good, with healing in Thy wings;
Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea.
Come, Friend of sinners, thus abide with me.

Thou on my head in early youth didst smile,
And though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee.
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter's power?
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.
Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me