O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go

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O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go,” George Matheson, Scotland 1882.

Of this hymn, Matheson says, “My hymn was com­posed…when I was 40 years of age. I was alone in the manse at that time. It was the night of my sister’s mar­ri­age, and the rest of the fam­i­ly were stay­ing over­night in Glas­gow. Some­thing hap­pened to me, which was known only to my­self, and which caused me the most se­vere men­tal suf­fer­ing. The hymn was the fruit of that suf­fer­ing. It was the quick­est bit of work I ever did in my life. I had the im­press­ion of hav­ing it dic­tat­ed to me by some in­ward voice ra­ther than of work­ing it out my­self. I am quite sure that the whole work was com­plet­ed in five min­utes, and equal­ly sure that it ne­ver re­ceived at my hands any re­touch­ing or cor­rect­ion. I have no na­tur­al gift of rhy­thm. All the other vers­es I have ever writ­ten are man­u­fact­ured ar­ti­cles; this came like a day­spring from on high.”

Born with poor vi­sion, George Ma­the­son’s eye­sight grad­ual­ly wors­ened un­til he was al­most to­tal­ly blind. How­ev­er, he was aca­dem­ic­al­ly gift­ed, and his sis­ters learned La­tin, Greek, and He­brew to help him stu­dy. He grad­u­at­ed from the Un­i­ver­si­ty of Edin­burgh (MA 1862), then be­came a min­is­ter in the Church of Scot­land. He pa­stored in the re­sort town of In­ne­lan for 18 years; due to his abil­i­ty to mem­o­rize serm­ons and en­tire sec­tions of the Bi­ble, lis­ten­ers were of­ten un­a­ware he was blind. In 1886, Matheson be­came pas­tor of St. Ber­nard’s Church in Edin­burgh, where he served 13 years. He spent the re­main­ing years of his life in lit­er­ary ef­forts.

His hymns include:

Lord, Thou Hast All My Frailty Made

Make Me a Captive, Lord

and O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go

O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

taken from cyberhymnal.org

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4 thoughts on “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go”

  1. i trace the rainbow through the rain
    love that will not let me go

    these are just two of the perfect lines, no wonder george can claim to not have written them

    gorgeous choir, thanks mick
    sets my day to a better start.

    love
    suzee B

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