Dear Angel Ever at My Side / Close by my Side

This devotional hymn for children was written by English hymn-writer, theologian, Roman Catholic convert and priest, Fr Frederick William Faber (1814-1863).  It was included in his book "St. Wilfrid's Hymns" published in 1849, with the title "To my Guardian Angel. For the School Children.

The earliest publications had 13 four line verses: In later publications, these have been combined when it is set to some tunes.  Also, some of the original verses have negative / woeful approach , and have been significantly altered in later versions.

Some publications have adapted it for wider (Protestant) use, with be naming Jesus instead of angels; titles include "Dear Jesus, ever at Thy side", "Bless’d Jesus, ever at my side" and “Dear Saviour, ever at my side."

The song was published a number of times in the 100 years following 1850, to a number of different tunes. But, so far, no one tune appears to have been widely associated with the song.



Downloads



Examples


Solo singer with organ:



Acapella, professional recording:



Child singer with harp / keyboard:



Adult singer with backing track - professional recording:


Lyrics - original version, no refrain

Traditional language

1. Dear angel ever at my side
How loving must thou be,
To leave thy home in heaven to guide
A little child like me.

2. Thy beautiful and shining face
I see not, though so near;
The sweetness of thy soft low voice
I am too deaf to hear.

3. I cannot feel thee touch my hand
With pressure light and mild,
To check me, as my mother did
When I was but a child.

4. But I have felt thee in my thoughts
Fighting with sin for me:
And when my heart loves God, I know
The sweetness is from thee.

5. And when, dear Spirit! I kneel down
Morning and night to prayer
Something there is within my heart
Which tells me thou are there.

6. Yes! when I pray, thou prayest too
Thy prayer is all for me;
But when I sleep, thou sleepest not,
But watchest patiently.

7. But most of all I feel thee near,
When, from the good priest’s feet,
I go absolved, in fearless love,
Fresh toils and cares to meet.

8. Ah me! how lovely they must be
Whom God has glorified:
Yet one of them, O sweetest thought!
Is ever at my side.

9. And thou in life’s last hour wilt bring
A fresh supply of grace,
And afterwards wilt let me kiss
Thy beautiful bright face.

10. Then for thy sake, dear angel! now
More humble will I be:
But I am weak, and when I fall,
Oh, weary not for me:

11. Oh, weary not, but love me still,
For Mary’s sake, thy Queen:
She never tired of me, though I
Her worst of sons have been.

12. She will reward thee with a smile;
Thou know’st what it is worth!
For Mary’s smiles each day convert
The hardest hearts on earth.

13. Then love me, love me, angel dear!
And I will love thee more;
And help me when my soul is cast
Upon the eternal shore.

Modern English

1. Dear angel ever at my side
How loving must you be,
To leave your home in heaven to guide
A little child like me.

2. your beautiful and shining face
I see not, though so near;
The sweetness of your soft low voice
I am too deaf to hear.

3. I cannot feel you touch my hand
With pressure light and mild,
To check me, as my mother did
When I was but a child.

4. But I have felt you in my thoughts
Fighting with sin for me:
And when my heart loves God, I know
The sweetness is from you.

5. And when, dear Spirit! I kneel down
Morning and night to prayer
Something there is within my heart
Which tells me you are there.

6. Yes! when I pray, you're praying too
your prayer is all for me;
But when I sleep, you're sleeping not,
But watching patiently.

7. But most of all I feel you near,
When, from the good priest’s feet,
I go absolved, in fearless love,
Fresh toils and cares to meet.

8. Ah me! how lovely they must be
Whom God has glorified:
Yet one of them, O sweetest thought!
Is ever at my side.

9. And you, in life’s last hour will bring
A fresh supply of grace,
And afterwards will let me kiss
your beautiful bright face.

10. Then for your sake, dear angel! now
More humble will I be:
But I am weak, and when I fall,
Oh, weary not for me:

11. Oh, weary not, but love me still,
For Mary’s sake, your Queen:
She never tired of me, though I
Her worst of sons have been.

12. She will reward you with a smile;
Thou know’st what it is worth!
For Mary’s smiles each day convert
The hardest hearts on earth.

13. Then love me, love me, angel dear!
And I will love you more;
And help me when my soul is cast
Upon the eternal shore.

Lyrics - shorter version with refrain

Traditional language

1 Dear Angel, ever at my side,
How loving Thou must be
To leave Thy home in heav’n to guide
A little child like me!
Thy beautiful and shining face
I see not, tho’ so near;
The sweetness of Thy soft, low voice
Too deaf am I to hear.

Chorus:
Close by my side, close by my side,
Dear Angel, walk today;
Close by Thy side, close by Thy side
I’d follow all the way.

2 I cannot feel Thee touch my hand
With pressure light and mild,
To cheek me as my mother doth
Her little wayward child;
But I can feel Thee in my tho’ts
Striving with sin for me,
And when my heart loves God I know
The sweetness comes from Thee. [Refrain]

3 And when beside my couch I kneel!
At morn and night for prayer,
There’s something speaks within my heart
And tells me Thou art there.
Yes, when I pray Thou prayest too,
Thy prayer is all for me;
But when I sleep Thou sleepest not,
But watchest lovingly

Modern English

1 Dear angel, ever at my side,
How loving you must be
To leave your home in heav’n to guide
A little child like me!
Your beautiful and shining face
I see not, tho’ so near;
The sweetness of your soft, low voice
Too deaf am I to hear.

Chorus:
Close by my side, close by my side,
Dear angel, walk today;
Close by your side, close by your side
I’d follow all the way.

2 I cannot feel you touch my hand
With pressure light and mild,
To cheek me as my mother does
Her little wayward child;
But I can feel you in my tho’ts
Striving with sin for me,
And when my heart loves God, I know
The sweetness comes from Thee. [Refrain]

3 And when beside my couch I kneel!
At morn and night for prayer,
There’s something speaks within my heart
And tells me you are there.
Yes, when I pray you're praying too,
Your prayer is all for me;
But when I sleep, you're sleeping not,
But watch me lovingly.

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