380. O Perfect Life of Love

1 O perfect life of love!
All, all is finished now
all that he left his throne above
to do for us below.

2 No work is left undone
of all the Father willed;
his toils, his sorrows, one by one,
are prophecies fulfilled.

3 No pain that we can share
but he has felt its smart.
All forms of human grief and care
have pierced that tender heart.

4 And on his thorn-crowned head
and on his sinless soul
our sins in all their guilt were laid,
that he might make us whole.

5 In perfect love he dies;
for me, his awful death!
O all-atoning Sacrifice,
I cling to you in faith.

6 In every time of need,
before your judgment throne
your work, O Lamb of God, I'll plead
your merit, not my own.

7 Yet work your way in me,
my self-will, Lord, remove;
then shall my love and service be
my answer to your love.

Text Information
First Line: O perfect life of love
Title: O Perfect Life of Love
Author: Henry Williams Baker (1875, alt.)
Meter: SM
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Topic: Cross of Christ; Epiphany & Ministry of Christ; Love: God's Love to Us (6 more...)
Tune Information
Meter: SM
Key: e minor

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1-5 = John 19:30

Because of how well biblical phrases and theological statements are packed into such short meter, John Julian calls this a text "of much merit." Written by Henry W. Baker (PHH 342) in seven stanzas, "O Perfect Life of Love" was first published in the 1875 edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern as a hymn for Passiontide.

The text meditates on the suffering and death of Christ, "that he might make us whole" (st. 1-5), confesses our total dependence on the merits of Christ (st. 6), and prays that our response to Christ's love may be a life of love and service (st. 7).

Liturgical Use:
Holy Week; stanzas 6 and 7 in worship services of confession/forgiveness or in other prayer services (including times other than Holy Week).

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

SOUTHWELL first appeared as a setting for Psalm 45 in John Bull's unauthorized publication of William Daman's The Psalmes of David (1579).

Lord Buckhorst, an English music patron who supported an international group of musicians, brought William Daman (b. Liege, Belgium, c. 1540; d. London, England, 1591) to England in 1565 to serve as a musician in his court. In 1579 Daman became one of the court musicians to Queen Elizabeth. His greatest contribution to hymnody was his harmonizations of the tunes found in the Sternhold and Hopkins Psalter, published as The Psalmes of David in English Meter, with Notes of Faure Partes set unto them (1579, 1591). In this work's second volume Daman often placed the main tune in the soprano rather than in the more traditional tenor part.

SOUTHWELL, with the melody in the tenor, was included in Daman's 1591 collection as a setting for Psalm 45. In his 1612 Psalter Thomas Ravenscroft named the tune after the cathedral city in Nottinghamshire, England. The simple Dorian tune is one of the earliest in short meter (66 86). It consists of two opening phrases followed by a long closing line. The original version contained more rhythmic interest, particularly in the third phrase, than the isorhythmic (all equal rhythms) version in most modern hymnals. Sing in parts and assign various stanzas to antiphonal groups in the congregation. Reserve stanzas 6 and 7 for the entire congregation to sing in unison.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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