The Love Of God

We sang the hymn, “The Love Of God,” in church Sunday and it has been on my mind all week. It is so rich and beautiful. When I searched for the exact words and history of the song, I was in for so much more than I imagined I would be. I was pouring over many sites, documents, and u-tubes. It has a very interesting back story.

Very briefly, the author and composer, Frederick Lehman, wrote two stanzas and the chorus and became stuck. He knew it needed a third stanza. He used words he found on a long forgotten book mark he had. It was said that those words of the third stanza were penciled on the wall of a mental institution by a patient. Apparently, that patient used the words of a poem written in the year 1096, by a Jewish Rabbi. It was exactly what Lehman needed. God had this song planned hundreds of years before it was knit together and put to music. We still sing it today and parts of it originated almost one thousand years ago.

I’m a strange gal musically…I absolutely love the new praise songs, contemporary Christian music, and the old hymns. I love them all. They’re both a way to worship and both very real. That’s why I’m thankful that my church still has a mixture of hymns and contemporary music. It’s a tough line to walk, but God is enabling our worship leaders to blend in both. God touches different people in different ways with a variation of music. It prepares us to worship and engages us in His presence. Music has always done that for me…it touches my soul like nothing else.

It thrills my heart to sing the old hymns at times. It amazes me that my ancestors who came to America in the 1800’s were probably gathered in their homes and churches singing the exact words and tunes I sing today. My imagination goes to the hymn writers who penned their notes on pieces of parchment and quill pens, their creativity and ability beyond my comprehension. There’s such reverence, beauty and gracefulness in these hymns. They’ve endured the ages. We’re rejoicing with the saints who have gone before us to their heavenly home.

The Holy Spirit also moves me deeply through modern praise music. It brings me to heights of worship to my God that makes me feel like I’m tasting a small slice of heaven. In the eyes of my heart, I can see millions raising their hands to our heavenly Father around the throne in heaven. I often go to concerts and conferences where things happen to me or others which are indescribable. His presence is so incredibly strong that many are drawn to clapping, dancing, speaking in tongues, prophesying, falling on knees, visions, liturgical movement or anything the Lord wants to do. That’s ok-it really is.

It is His holy ground.

I can’t explain it or dismiss it. It’s real. It’s movement of the Holy Spirit.

Some people think this is just emotional hype and not real. Who are we to tell God that this kind of worship or manifestations of the Holy Spirit do not or should not happen?

He’s the GREAT I AM. He can do whatever He wants!

I no longer need to fear this.

I believe God works through all ways of worship and they are pleasing to Him. If a person is truly worshiping and giving their heart to Him, God works in amazing and incredible ways. We will never understand it all until we reach heaven.

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Back to the song, “Love Of God.”  The third stanza is especially astounding as a writer, where it speaks of writing about the love of God. 

Imagine if the whole ocean was filled with ink, the whole sky was a piece of paper, every weed on earth was a pen, and every person was a writer. The piece of paper produced would stretch from one end of the world to the other, and still would not be able to explain how much God loves us.

Romans 8:38-39—“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

It’s time to be quiet and let God speak to you.

This video made me smile. I hope it does the same for you. I loved the teens and children praising God in liturgical movement.

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The words to the hymn: “The Love Of God”

  1. The love of God is greater far
    Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
    It goes beyond the highest star,
    And reaches to the lowest hell;
    The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
    God gave His Son to win;
    His erring child He reconciled,
    And pardoned from his sin.

    • Refrain:
      Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
      How measureless and strong!
      It shall forevermore endure—
      The saints’ and angels’ song.
  2. When hoary time shall pass away,
    And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
    When men who here refuse to pray,
    On rocks and hills and mountains call,
    God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
    All measureless and strong;
    Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
    The saints’ and angels’ song.
  3. Could we with ink the ocean fill,
    And were the skies of parchment made,
    Were every stalk on earth a quill,
    And every man a scribe by trade;
    To write the love of God above
    Would drain the ocean dry;
    Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
    Though stretched from sky to sky.

Quote by Kenneth Osbeck: “Frederick Lehman tells us that verse 3 “had been found penciled on the wall of a patient’s room in an insane asylum after he had been carried to his grave.” While it is only supposition that he was the one who adapted the Jewish author’s poem to leave us these well-known lines, if the account is true it shows in any case that he highly esteemed the message.”

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Here are a few links which may interest you. I found them in my research about this hymn. Watch out, you can get hung up on the interesting stories and songs! Enjoy!

This is how to buy a book by Smith on histories of hymns: http://www.amazon.com/Smiths-treasury-hymn-histories-authentic/dp/B00070TQY4

This is Mr. Smith’s short biography: http://livinghymns.org/bio.htm

This video doesn’t show all the verses but it is beautiful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNehKKPiuY4

This tells about more of the history of hymn and background stories of the hymn writer, Lehman:  http://www.tanbible.com/tol_sng/sng_theloveofgod.htm

 

About Myrna Folkert

Myrna is an author who desires to use her gifts to glorify God. She's created this blog to tell stories of her childhood, musings about life, motherless daughters, grief and loss, faith in God, her family history, and facts about the Long QT syndrome. She also has a hearing condition called Tinnitus. Doing interviews with motherless daughters like herself are of great interest. Join in discussions by following this blog and commenting. She would love to hear your stories about life. Myrna is a Christ follower, wife, mother, sister, friend, aunt, and cousin. She was an elementary school teacher for 27 years; now works in her church, and a few other volunteer activities such as Hospice doing "Life Reviews" and Vigils. Myrna loves to read, write, listen to music, go to concerts, and take pictures. Her favorite pastime is boating with her husband near the beautiful shores of West Michigan.
This entry was posted in Ancestry, God's Love, Hymns, Worship and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Love Of God

  1. Duane Joostberns says:

    Great story, Myrna! Keep them coming! DJ

    Like

  2. Myrna, you have expressed what I feel about the old hymns and the new hymns. I especially like the ones written by the Gettys and Stuart Townend. The above hymn is one of my favorites along with “How Great Thou Art.” Our church also blends the old with the new, both of which lead to worshiping of the Great I Am.

    Like

    • myrnafolkert says:

      Thank you Aunt Dottie! I didn’t see this comment until now because of technical difficulties. Yes, it should not matter how a person chooses to worship, as long we are worshiping our great I AM. So true.

      Like

  3. Lois Blanchard says:

    Dear Myrna: So well written. I, too love that song. Fred Volkema and I had that sung at our wedding in 1949. It had been sung so often at our Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC. It was just a part of our lives, to marvel at the love God has for us, daily.

    I did skim over your references at the end, and yes, found myself buried in the content of several. I can never get enough of Wintley Phipps’ singing. It reminds me that I should get out his DVDs and listen again to some of them. I will try to scan and send a tiny tract with “The Love of God” printed on it, by Samuel McDill, Sr. I don’t recall hearing this version. But—While cleaning out John Blanchard’s desk after his death, I found this crumpled at the back of a drawer. In your research, did you see this version? The first verse here is the most familiar part.

    Thank you for this post. It touched me in several ways. My love,Aunt Lois

    Like

  4. myrnafolkert says:

    Thank you for commenting Aunt Lois! You are very special and I’m glad you shared about this song being in your marriage ceremony to my Uncle Fred.

    Like

  5. Jeanne says:

    Brilliant. Myrna you are a gifted writer. One that can write what others are thinking and have it sound so beautiful. Peaceful.
    Thank you. Please do not stop. I wait with such anticipation to receive an email in my inbox that says you have written again!

    Like

  6. myrnafolkert says:

    Jeanne, you know it is all God and I feel very inadequate. But if God wants to use me as a channel, I better keep writing! I feel compelled to keep going because He calls me to it even when I have no idea what to write about or how to write it. Thank you for your encouragement and friendship. It means so much to me! God uses people like you to keep me on track when I have a hard time hearing His voice yelling, “Keep Writing!!!!” 🙂

    Like

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