O Love of God, How Strong and True

Full Text

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.

Source: Lift Up Your Hearts: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs #583

Author: Horatius Bonar

Horatius Bonar was born at Edinburgh, in 1808. His education was obtained at the High School, and the University of his native city. He was ordained to the ministry, in 1837, and since then has been pastor at Kelso. In 1843, he joined the Free Church of Scotland. His reputation as a religious writer was first gained on the publication of the "Kelso Tracts," of which he was the author. He has also written many other prose works, some of which have had a very large circulation. Nor is he less favorably known as a religious poet and hymn-writer. The three series of "Hymns of Faith and Hope," have passed through several editions. --Annotations of the Hymnal, Charles Hutchins, M.A. 1872… Go to person page >


Scripture References:
st. 1 = Jer. 31:3, Lam. 3:22-23
st. 3 = Eph. 3:17-18
st. 5 = Col. 1:19-20
st. 7 = Ps. 33:20

One of Horatius Bonar's (PHH 260) best hymn texts, “O Love of God” was published in his Hymns of Faith and Hope (1861) in ten stanzas. The Psalter Hymnal includes the original stanzas 1, 3-6, 9, and 10.

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).

Liturgical Use:
The theme of God' s redemptive love is fitting for many worship services, particularly as a hymn between confession and assurance and the service of the word; worship that focuses on creation (st. 1,3-5); healing services (st. 1-2,5,7); funerals (st. 1-2,5-7); Easter Sunday (st. 5-7).

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook



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