Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Story of The Last Stanza

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.

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

When years of 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.

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

I love this song and recently I've been reading about the history behind many of today's most cherished hymns. When I ran across the history of this one, I had to share it, not to mention the words of the beautiful hymn itself.
The last stanza of this hymn was found penciled on the wall of a patient's room in a California asylum for the insane in 1917 after he had passed away.
This part of the song's history is amazing to me and I wish I knew more about this guy. Like, why was he there? Was he really insane or was he sick with an illness that caused depression or other mental anguish? He did pass away so that would make sense. Either way, how incredible that he would write about the love of God in such a time of distress...when the demons in his mind were probably trying to convince him of just the opposite. I see this as a deep love and trust in God even through a dark valley of Illness. (Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4)
Anyway, this writing of his was based on the Jewish poem, Hadamut, written by Meir Ben Isaac Nahorai, circa 1050. It was somewhat paraphrased by this mystery patient, but is still beautiful.
A pastor by the name of Fredrick M. Lehman, who somehow learned of these words on the wall and copied them down, was so moved by them that he penned two stanzas of his own one day on his breaks while at work, then added them to the poem segment. In a nutshell, this is how we came to have the Hymn we know today as The Love Of God.   What beautiful imagery this song holds! I hope it blesses you as much as it has me.
Have a good night friends ~Jen

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