1 O love of God, how strong and true,
eternal and yet ever new,
uncomprehended and unbought,
beyond all knowledge and all thought.
2 O heavenly love, how precious still
in days of weariness and ill,
in nights of pain and helplessness,
to heal, to comfort, and to bless.
3 O wide-embracing, wondrous love!
We read you in the sky above,
we read you in the earth below,
in seas that swell and streams that flow.
4 We read you in the flowers, the trees,
the freshness of the fragrant breeze,
the song of birds upon the wing,
the joy of summer and of spring.
5 We read you best in him who came
to bear for us the cross of shame,
sent by the Father from on high,
our life to live, our death to die.
6 We read your power to bless and save,
even in the darkness of the grave;
still more in resurrection light
we read the fullness of thy might.
7 O love of God, our shield and stay
through all the perils of our way;
eternal love, in you we rest,
forever safe, forever blest.
The text's theme is God's love, which we cannot comprehend but do experience (st. 1-2). We may observe God's love in the creation around us (st. 3-4), but we find his love most clearly expressed in the sacrifice of Christ (st. 5-6); it is in this redemptive love that we find our eternal rest (st. 7).
Bert Polman, Psalter Hymnal Handbook
The best-loved expressions of praise for God’s care-taking work of his children comes from the familiar words of Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 1, Question and Answer 1: “My only comfort in life and death [is] that I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil...Because I belong to him, Christ by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes we wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.”
This great truth is explained more completely by Belgic Confession, Article 20. God has given his Son to die for us “…by a most perfect love, and raising him to life for our justification, in order that by him, we might have immortality and eternal life.” And in Article 21, “…He endured all this for the forgiveness of our sins.” For this redemptive work we give praise and adoration.