Hymn Study: O Perfect Love

 I had thought about posting this one last week, it's a song I've heard at weddings, but it was part of our remembrance day service last week. But if you read the words to this hymn, it's talking about God's love for his people, and our love returned to him. It speaks also to the love between two people who will be joined together in marriage.  Love from God, holding them together, as they love each other and love God back.  It's a popular wedding hymn.


Written by Dorothy F. Gurney, this song came to her:
It was Sunday ev­en­ing [at Pull Wyke, Win­der­mere, Eng­land] and we were en­joy­ing a time of hymn sing­ing. A song that was par­ti­cu­lar­ly en­joyed by all of us was O Strength and Stay, the tune to which was a fav­o­rite of my sis­ter. As we fin­ished sing­ing this hymn, some­one re­marked, ‘What a pi­ty the words of this beau­ti­ful song should be un­suit­a­ble for a wed­ding!’ My sis­ter turned to me and chal­lenged, ‘What is the use of a sis­ter who com­pos­es po­et­ry if she can­not write new words to a fa­vo­rite tune? I would like to use the tune at my wed­ding.’ I picked up a hymn­book and said, ‘If no one will dis­turb me, I will go into the lib­ra­ry and see what I can do.’ With­in 15 min­utes I was back with the group and read­ing the words I had jot­ted down. The writ­ing of the words was no ef­fort what­ev­er af­ter the in­i­tial idea came to me of the two­fold aspect of per­fect un­ion, love and life. I feel that God helped me write this song.  (source)
Interesting eh?   I never knew the story behind this song was to find words more suitable for a wedding, to please a sister.  :) 

Dorothy Gurney lived 1858-1932.  She was a daughter of an english clerygman.  She was born a Blomfield and she wrote this song while still single. Later J. Barnaby wrote a tune for her words which has become more popular. 

Lyrics

O perfect Love, all human thought transcending,
Lowly we kneel in prayer before Thy throne,
That theirs may be the love which knows no ending,
Whom Thou forevermore dost join in one.

O perfect Life, be Thou their full assurance,
Of tender charity and steadfast faith,
Of patient hope and quiet, brave endurance,
With childlike trust that fears nor pain nor death.

Grant them the joy which brightens earthly sorrow;
Grant them the peace which calms all earthly strife,
And to life’s day the glorious unknown morrow
That dawns upon eternal love and life.

Hear us, O Father, gracious and forgiving,
Through Jesus Christ, Thy coeternal Word,
Who, with the Holy Ghost, by all things living
Now and to endless ages art adored.



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2 comments

  1. Interesting one. I like the older style of the lyrics but don't know this hymn. Thanks for sharing.

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    Replies
    1. You've not heard it at a wedding I'm shocked it's very popular up here

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