st. 1 = 1 Cor. 13:1
st. 2 = 1 Cor. 13:2
st. 3 = 1 Cor. 13:3
st. 4 = 1 Cor. 13:4
st. 5 = 1 Cor. 13:8, 13
"If I Speak" is a paraphrase of the Bible's famous chapter on love in 1 Corinthians 13. After discussing various spiritual gifts and their use in the Christian community (chap. 12), the apostle Paul turns to describe "the most excellent way"–the way of love. Love is the most profound fruit of the Holy Spirit, and it should characterize every facet of the Christian life. Using metaphor, hyperbole, and both positive and negative description, Paul describes this kind of agape love in a succinct and beautiful chapter.
Bert Polman (PHH 37) paraphrased parts of the chapter for a Pentecost hymn festival at Fellowship Christian Reformed Church, Rexdale, Ontario, in 1986. Polman began by revising Christopher Wordsworth's hymn on the same text, "Gracious Spirit, Holy Ghost," published in Wordsworth's The Holy Year (1862), but ended up with this new paraphrase.
Any worship service focusing on God's command to love one another, the communion of saints, or spiritual gifts and their exercise; weddings or other family services.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook