O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High

Full Text

1 O love, how deep, how broad, how high,
beyond all thought and fantasy,
that God, the Son of God, should take
our mortal form for mortals’ sake!

2 For us baptized, for us he bore
his holy fast and hungered sore;
for us temptation sharp he knew,
for us the tempter overthrew.

3 For us he prayed; for us he taught;
for us his daily works he wrought:
by words and signs and actions thus
still seeking not himself, but us.

4 For us to evil power betrayed,
scourged, mocked, in purple robe arrayed,
he bore the shameful cross and death;
for us gave up his dying breath.

5 For us he rose from death again;
for us he went on high to reign;
for us he sent his Spirit here
to guide, to strengthen, and to cheer.

6 All glory to our Lord and God
for love so deep, so high, so broad —
the Trinity, whom we adore
forever and forevermore.

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Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

The text has a wide scope, taking in all of Jesus’ incarnate life: his birth (st. 1); identification with human affairs (st. 2); daily ministry (st. 3); crucifixion (st. 4); resurrection, ascension, and gift of the Spirit (st. 5); the final stanza is a doxology (st. 6). Thus the text summarizes Christ's life in the same manner as the Apostles' Creed. A striking feature is the text's emphasis on the fact that Jesus accomplished all of this "for us"; "for us" occurs at least a dozen times! The redemptive work of Christ is very personally, very corporately applied.

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

There was only one way for the sins of the world to be atoned for—God sent his one and only beloved Son into the world, who took “our mortal form for mortal’s sake” (stanza 1) and was made in “‘human form’, truly assuming a human nature, with all its weaknesses, except for sin...” (Belgic Confession, Article 18).


He was baptized for us, stanza 2 says, and Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 24 assures us that “in his baptism and temptations…Jesus lived a full and righteous human life before us.”


Yet the reason for his coming was to suffer and die for the sins of the world. Stanza 4 captures the process of his suffering and death on the cross. Belgic Confession, Article 21, recounts the many stages of Jesus’ suffering: “…He endured all this for the forgiveness of our sins.” In Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Days 15 and 16, Questions and Answers 37-44, there is a more complete description of the significance of his sufferings and death. Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 25, professes that in his suffering and death, “He carried God‘s judgment on our sin—his sacrifice removed our guilt.”


Stanza 5 proclaims: “For us he rose from death again” and the same truth is professed in Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 25, that “God raised him from the dead; he walked out of the grave, conqueror of sin and death—Lord of Life!” Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 19, Question and Answer 50 explains that he “ascended to heaven to show there that he is head of his church, the one through whom the Father rules all things.” Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 28 says that the ascended Jesus, at Pentecost, “becomes the baptizer, drenching his followers with his Spirit, creating a new community where Father, Son, and Holy Spirit make their home.”


And finally, the song ends in stanza 6 with a doxology to the Trinity. Belgic Confession, Article 8 gives a fuller explanation of all three persons of the Holy Trinity, while Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 8, Questions and Answers 24 and 25 identifies the primary tasks of each. Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 2 proclaims: “God is King: Let the earth be glad! Christ is victor: his rule has begun! The Spirit is at work: creation is renewed! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!”


O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High

Call to Worship

Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
—Psalm 96:2-3, NIV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name,
worship the Lord in holy splendor.
The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord , over mighty waters.
The voice of the LORD is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
—Psalm 29:2-4, NRSV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

God anointed Christ to console the afflicted.
Come, let us worship the Lord our Comforter!
God anointed Christ to emancipate the enslaved.
Come, let us worship the Lord our liberator!
God anointed Christ to bind up the wounded.
Come, let us worship the Lord our healer!
God anointed Christ to deliver the troubled.
Come, let us worship the Lord our Savior!
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

All who thirst, come to the water
and drink deeply of these living streams.
Come, all who are weary;
come, all who yearn for forgiveness.
Our gracious God beckons and blesses us.
Let us give praise for new life in Christ.
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two


Friends, hear the good news!
Though we are unworthy,
we are granted God’s favor in Jesus Christ
and are baptized into the church of his beloved Son.
Friends, believe the good news!
In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Additional Prayers

O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
you emptied yourself of heaven’s riches
and came to share our lot.
You made yourself poor
so that by your poverty we might become rich.
Perfect in purity, you submitted to baptism, like any sinner in need of cleansing.
So many today need your tender care.
Tend your prisoners, lonely and abandoned.
Tend your addicts, trapped by lethal hungers.
Tend your prostitutes, hard used by the lust of strangers.
Tend your refugees, footsore, threadbare, humiliated by their loss.
Tend your unemployed and underpaid,
your lonely ones, your depressed ones, your wretched ones.
O Lord Jesus Christ, welcome our brothers and sisters
whose calling this day is to die.
Escort them by a party of angels into your radiance
and enlighten them with the rays of your love.
O Lord Jesus Christ, you who were baptized like any sinner,
love us sinners and intercede for us in the hour of our need. Amen.
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High

Tune Information

c minor


Musical Suggestion

The text of “O Love, How Deep” spans the entirety of Christ’s ministry—baptism, temptation, miracles, passion, death and resurrection—so is appropriate throughout the church year. Because the hymn covers so many themes, consider adapting to the season by singing the first verse, appropriate selections from verses 2-5, and the final doxology (verse 6). It is easy to fall into the trap of playing all minor key melodies in a slow and serious style, but this hymn sounds best if you keep the tempo moving forward. A frame drum is a nice addition to the written accompaniment, helping keep rhythmic energy and accentuate the measures where the melody falls on the second beat.
— Greg Scheer

O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High

Hymn Story/Background

This text has a wide scope, treating Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and coming again much as the Apostles’ Creed treats them. The original anonymous text in Latin ("O amor quam ecstaticus") comes from a fifteenth-century manuscript from Karlsruhe. The twenty-three-stanza text has been attributed to Thomas à Kempis because of its similarities to writings of the Moderna Devotio Movement associated with à Kempis, a movement that was an important precursor of the Reformation in the Netherlands. However, there is insufficient proof that he actually wrote this text.
DEO GRACIAS is a fifteenth-century English ballad tune sung to commemorate the Battle at Agincourt in 1415. The Agincourt ballad began with the refrain (popularized by E. Power Biggs in an organ fanfare arrangement) "Deo gracias Anglia Redde pro victoria" ("Render thanks to God, England, for victory"). Stanza 1 originally began "Owre kynge went forth to Normandy." Also known as AGINCOURT, the tune was adapted for congregational singing in the 1906 English Hymnal.
DEO GRACIAS is a vigorous tune, even martial with this harmonization by Carl Schalk written for the Lutheran Worship Supplement (1969). Support the unison singing line with solid organ tone and crisp rhythmic accompaniment. Try having antiphonal groups sing stanzas 1-5 and the entire congregation sing stanza 6. Use brass instruments for fanfares and/or accompaniment. Maintain one pulse per bar.
— Bert Polman

Author Information

Benjamin Webb (b. London, England, 1819; d. Marylebone, London, 1885) originally translated the text in eight stanzas, although six only appear in Lift Up Your Hearts. It was published in The Hymnal Noted (1852), produced by his friend John Mason Neale. Webb received his education at Trinity College, Cambridge, England, and became a priest in the Church of England in 1843. Among the parishes he served was St. Andrews, Wells Street, London, where he worked from 1862 to 1881. Webb's years there coincided with the service of the talented choir director and organist Joseph Barnby, and the church became known for its excellent music program. Webb edited The Ecclesiologist, a periodi­cal of the Cambridge Ecclesiological Society (1842-1868). A composer of anthems, Webb also wrote hymns and hymn translations and served as one of the editors of The Hymnary (1872).
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

Carl F. Schalk (b. Des Plaines, IL, 1929) was professor of music emeritus at Concordia University, River Forest, Illinois, where he taught from 1965-2004. He completed gradu­ate work at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, and at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri. From 1952 to 1956 he taught and directed music at Zion Lutheran Church in Wausau, Wisconsin, and from 1958 to 1965 served as director of music for the International Lutheran Hour. Honored as a fellow of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada in 1992, Schalk was editor of the Church Music journal (1966-1980), a member of the committee that prepared the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), and a widely published composer of church music. Included in his publications are The Roots of Hymnody in The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (1965), Key Words in Church Music (1978), and Luther on Music: Paradigms of Praise (1988). His numerous hymn tunes and carols are collected in the Carl Schalk Hymnary (1989) and its 1991 Supplement.
— Bert Polman

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