463. O Love of God, How Strong and True

1 O love of God, how strong and true,
eternal and yet ever new,
uncomprehended and unbought,
beyond all knowledge and all thought.

2 O heavenly love, how precious still
in days of weariness and ill,
in nights of pain and helplessness,
to heal, to comfort, and to bless.

3 O wide-embracing, wondrous love!
we read you in the sky above;
we read you in the earth below,
in seas that swell and streams that flow.

4 We read you in the flowers, the trees,
the freshness of the fragrant breeze,
the song of birds upon the wing,
the joy of summer and of spring.

5 We read you best in him who came
to bear for us the cross of shame,
sent by the Father from on high,
our life to live, our death to die.

6 We read your power to bless and save
e'en in the darkness of the grave;
still more in resurrection light
we read the fullness of your might.

7 O love of God, our shield and stay
through all the perils of our way;
eternal love, in you we rest,
forever safe, forever blest.

Text Information
First Line: O love of God, how strong and true
Title: O Love of God, How Strong and True
Author: Horatius Bonar (1861)
Meter: LM
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Topic: Doxologies; Funerals; Love: God's Love to Us (6 more...)
Tune Information
Composer: William Knapp (1738)
Meter: LM
Key: A♭ Major

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Jer. 31:3, Lam. 3:22-23
st. 3 = Eph. 3:17-18
st. 5 = Col. 1:19-20
st. 7 = Ps. 33:20

One of Horatius Bonar's (PHH 260) best hymn texts, “O Love of God” was published in his Hymns of Faith and Hope (1861) in ten stanzas. The Psalter Hymnal includes the original stanzas 1, 3-6, 9, and 10.

The text's theme is God's love, which we cannot comprehend but do experience (st. 1-2). We may observe God's love in the creation around us (st. 3-4), but we find his love most clearly expressed in the sacrifice of Christ (st. 5-6); it is in this redemptive love that we find our eternal rest (st. 7).

Liturgical Use:
The theme of God' s redemptive love is fitting for many worship services, particularly as a hymn between confession and assurance and the service of the word; worship that focuses on creation (st. 1,3-5); healing services (st. 1-2,5,7); funerals (st. 1-2,5-7); Easter Sunday (st. 5-7).

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

William Knapp (b. Wareham, Dorsetshire, England, 1698; d. Poole, Dorsetshire, 1768) composed WAREHAM, so named for his birthplace. A glover by trade, Knapp served as the parish clerk at St. James's Church in Poole (1729-1768) and was organist in both Wareham and Poole. Known in his time as the "country psalm-singer," Knapp published A Set of New Psalm Tunes and Anthems (1738) and New Church Melody (1753). WAREHAM was published in his 1738 collection with the melody in the tenor as a setting for Psalm 36. Its slightly simplified form appears in nearly all modern hymnals. The tune is easy to sing because of its almost continuous stepwise motion and smooth melodic Contour. Try assigning the stanzas as follows for antiphonal singing: stanzas 1 and 2 to one group, stanzas 3 and 4 to another, and the remaining three stanzas to the entire Congregation. Sing in harmony for the even-numbered stanzas, but the strength of unison singing is necessary for stanza 7.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

MIDI file: MIDI Preview
(Faith Alive Christian Resources)
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