Sacred Music Sunday: Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
My favorite hymn of all time is Love Divine, All Loves Excelling. It was written by Charles Wesley, and it is set to a handful of different tunes. One of the most common tunes it’s set to is Hyfrydol, which is a popular Welsh hymn tune that has several different hymns set to it.
Love Divine, All Loves Excelling is a meditation on the love of God and the power of that love to redeem us. The first verse speaks of the mercy and compassion of Jesus. The second verse expresses a longing for the rest we can find in God and the change of heart we can receive. The third verse sings of the glory of the second coming of Jesus, and the fourth verse sings of the joy we will experience in the life to come.
Whenever I am hurting or unsettled, God always finds a way to send me this hymn. The first time was a little over three years ago when someone did something unkind and unloving purportedly in the name of God that wounded the souls of a lot of people. My heart knew God had nothing to do with that thing and that His name was being taken in vain, because God is love. And the Holy Spirit whispered peace to me and I stumbled across this hymn on YouTube.
It’s happened a few other times over the last couple of years, in mostly small ways. And it happened again earlier this month. I went to the temple a few weeks ago to give the endowment another try, since I had heard that much of what had wounded my soul in the previous version had been removed. I was nervous because I had high hopes, and I was afraid they would be dashed.
I sat in the chapel awaiting the start of the session. As I was praying for peace, the melodious strains of Hyfrydol began to play on the organ. I know whoever programmed the organ intended In Humility, Our Savior, but my ears and my heart heard Love Divine, All Loves Excelling, and my heart was stilled.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?… Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 8:35-39
The love of God is so powerful that not even the angels can separate us from it. And if the angels are powerless to separate us from God’s love, then people, even those in high places who think they have that power, are all the less able to do so.
Love divine, all loves excelling,
joy of heav’n, to earth come down,
fix in us Thy humble dwelling;
all Thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, Thou art all compassion;
pure, unbounded love Thou art;
visit us with Thy salvation;
enter ev’ry trembling heart.
Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit
into ev’ry troubled breast!
Let us all in Thee inherit;
let us find the promised rest.
Take away the love of sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
end of faith, as its beginning,
set our hearts at liberty.
Come, Almighty, to deliver;
let us all Thy life receive;
suddenly return and never,
nevermore Thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
serve Thee as Thy hosts above,
pray and praise Thee without ceasing,
glory in Thy perfect love.
Finish then Thy new creation;Love Divine, All Loves Excelling – Charles Wesley – Public Domain
pure and spotless let us be.
Let us see Thy great salvation
perfectly restored in Thee.
Changed from glory into glory,
till in heav’n we take our place,
till we cast our crowns before Thee,
lost in wonder, love, and praise.