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May 01, 2005

50R Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

Original Title: "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling," Charles Wesley (1747), first tune, HYFRYDOL,, Rowland Hugh Pritchard (1855), second tune, BEECHER,, John Zundel (1870); New Title: Same hymn title, rev. REH (2006), HYFRYDOL, The hymn first appeared in Hymns For Those That Seek, and Those That Have Redemption (1747). Charles Wesley, father of the Methodist movement, who wrote over 6,500 hymns, is said to have been inspired by the song "The Song of Venus" from John Dryden's play King Arthur. The hymn originally had four verses, and suggested that one could be completely cleansed of sin in this life. This prompted Charles' brother John Wesley to change the lyrics. It appeared with two verses only in Hymns of the Spirit Two (1937). In that version, "Jesus, thou art all compassion," became "Father, thou art all compassion." Here "Wisdom" has been substituted; see 50S for a version in which "Jesus" has been restored. Below, as in 50S, lines from the original third and fourth verses have been combined to create a third verse. Charles Wesley himself might rank "Wisdom" at least over "Father" as here, explaining in his Notes on Proverbs that "Christ, under the name of Wisdom, invites us to his entertainment;" i.e., "Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn her seven pillars . . . 'Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine I have mixed,'" Proverbs 9:1, 5. The hymn does not appear in Singing the Living Tradition (that said, the tune HYFRYDOL should be well known in most Unitarian Universalist congregations all the same, as it is used for no. 140, "Hail the Glorious Golden City," and no. 166, "Years Are Coming," and no. 207, "Earth Was Given As a Garden"). The hymn does appear in The New Century Hymnal to the tune BEECHER (though HYFRYDOL is suggested as an alternative) as no. 43, with four stanzas. 1 John 4:16, "God is Love," Malachi 3:1, "The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts." "And all of us ... seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another," 2 Corinthians 3:18. 2 Corinthians 5:17, "So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation." "All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he'll never let you be pushed past your limit; he'll always be there to help you come through it," 1 Corinthians 10:13b (The Message). "[N]ew creation," 2 Corinthians 5:17.


1. Love di-vine, all loves ex-cell-ing,
Joy of heaven to earth come down;
Fix in us a hum-ble dwell-ing;
All your faith-ful mer-cies crown!
Wis-dom, you are all com-pas-sion;
Pure, un-bound-ed love im-part;
Vis-it us with your sal-va-tion;
En-ter eve-ry trem-bling heart.

2. Breathe, O breathe your lov-ing spir-it,
In-to eve-ry trou-bled breast!
Let us all in you in-her-it;
Let us find your prom-ised rest.
We would you be al-ways bless-ing,
Al-pha and O-me-ga be;
We would praise you with-out ceas-ing;
Set our hearts at li-ber-ty.

3. Come, E-ter-nal, to de-liv-er,
Let us all your life re-ceive;
Gra-cious-ly re-turn and ne-ver,
Ne-ver more your tem-ples leave.
Her-ald-ing a new cre-a-tion;
Heaven and earth take now their place;
Let us see your great sal-va-tion;
Lost in won-der, love, and praise.

Word Score
PDF Score
Noteworthy Composer Score

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Posted by rehurst at May 1, 2005 10:32 PM

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