Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

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Love divine, all loves excelling, Joy of heaven, to earth come down

Author: Charles Wesley (1747)
Published in 1785 hymnals

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Representative Text

1 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.

2 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.

3 Come, Almighty, to deliver,
let us all thy life receive.
Suddenly return, and never,
nevermore they 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.

4 Finish, then, thy new creation;
true 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.

Source: Voices Together #638

Author: Charles Wesley

Charles Wesley, M.A. was the great hymn-writer of the Wesley family, perhaps, taking quantity and quality into consideration, the great hymn-writer of all ages. Charles Wesley was the youngest son and 18th child of Samuel and Susanna Wesley, and was born at Epworth Rectory, Dec. 18, 1707. In 1716 he went to Westminster School, being provided with a home and board by his elder brother Samuel, then usher at the school, until 1721, when he was elected King's Scholar, and as such received his board and education free. In 1726 Charles Wesley was elected to a Westminster studentship at Christ Church, Oxford, where he took his degree in 1729, and became a college tutor. In the early part of the same year his religious impressions were much deepene… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Love divine, all loves excelling, Joy of heaven, to earth come down
Title: Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
Author: Charles Wesley (1747)
Meter: D
Language: English
Notes: Spanish translation: See "Sólo excelso, amor divino, Gozo vén del cielo á nos" by Elida Falcón
Copyright: Public Domain


Scripture References:
st. 1 = Rev. 21:3, John 3:16, John 15:9
st. 2 = Mal. 3:1
st. 3 = 2 Cor. 3:18, 2 Cor. 5:17, 2 Pet. 3:14

Considered by many to be among Charles Wesley's (PHH 267) finest texts, "Love Divine" was published in four stanzas in his Hymns for those that seek, and those that have Redemption in the Blood of Christ (1747). Many hymnals, including the Psalter Hymnal, omit the original second stanza, which contained the questionable line "take away our power of sinning." A verse from John Dryden's poem beginning with the words "Fairest isle, all isles excelling" used by Henry Purcell in his opera King Arthur were undoubtedly Wesley's inspiration for writing this text. In fact, "Love Divine" was set to a Purcell tune in John and Charles Wesley's Sacred Melody (1761).

Addressed to Christ, this text begins as a prayer for the indwelling of his love in our lives: "fix in us thy humble dwelling" and "let us all thy life receive" (st. 1-2). A tone of praise and adoration runs throughout the text. But the final stanza is clearly a prayer for sanctification, for consistently holy lives. Though this stanza was an outcome of the Specifically Wesleyan doctrine of perfection, it is our fervent Christian prayer that our sanctification will ultimately lead to glorification. As is customary in a Charles Wesley text, biblical allusions abound.

Liturgical Use:
As a sung prayer, probably towards the end of the service or, given its tone of praise, as a closing hymn; Advent.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Love Divine, all loves excelling. C. Wesley. [The Love of Christ.] First published in Hymns for those that Seek, and those that Have Redemption, 1747, No. 9, in 4 stanzas of 8 lines (Poetical Works, 1868-72, vol. iv. p. 219). In 1780 it was included, with the omission of stanza ii., in the Wesleyan Hymn Book, No. 374, and in this form it has passed into a large number of hymn-books in all English-speaking countries. It had previously appeared in full in M. Madan's Psalms & Hymns, 1760; A. M. Toplady's Psalms & Hymns, 1776, and other hymn-books of the Church of England. The two forms, the full and the abridged, have thus come into common use. Tested by its use it is found to rank with the best of its author's work. Mr. G. J. Stevenson has an interesting note thereon in his Methodist Hymn Book Notes, 1883, p. 266.

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)



John Zundel's BEECHER (named after Henry Ward Beecher, his pastor) was first published in his Christian Heart Songs (1870) as a setting for Charles Wesley's "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling" (568). The tune is also known as ZUNDEL. Approximating the shape of a rounded bar form (AA'BA'), BEECHER is…

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Include 1658 pre-1979 instances
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