Hymn of the Day: Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

Hymn of the Day: Love Divine, All Loves Excelling February 12, 2023

This hymn is commonly paired with three tunes. First, and probably most often in this country, it is paired with the tune BEECHER. This is the one I learned first, and it’s the one I think when I think this hymn. It has begun to fall out of favor, though, probably because it’s a bit clunky, punctuated by what Paul Westermeyer describes as a “yowling” major sixth leap the occurs three times in each stanza.

Then, there’s HYFRYDOL, a much smoother, more majestic tune. This is increasingly becoming the choice pairing in the USA.

Then there’s BLAENWERN, the favorite in the UK. It’s gorgeous, melodic, and majestic, though not as easy to sing as HYFRYDOL.

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 are all compassion,
Pure, unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation;
Enter ev’ry trembling heart.

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 our bent to sinning;
Alpha amd Omega be;
End of faith, as its beginning,
Set our hearts at libery.

Come, Almighty to deliver,
Let us all Thy grace receive;
Suddenly return, and never,
Nevermore Thy 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.

Finish, then, Thy new creation;
Pure 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.
– Charles Wesley, 1747

Photo: Adoration of the Magi by Claude Vignon, c. 1619, creative commons 2.0

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