Love divine, all loves excelling

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Hymn # 657     Love divine, all loves excelling

Words: Charles Wesley

Tune:  Hyfrodol

Composer:  Rowland Prichard

I really love this hymn.  It’s the perfect match of a lilting Welsh tune paired with lovely words to inspire and move us.   I especially love the very last phrases: “changed from glory into glory, till in heaven we take our place, till we cast our crowns before thee, lost in wonder, love, and praise.”  It doesn’t get any better than that.

Considered by many to be among Charles Wesley's finest texts, "Love Divine" was published in four stanzas in his Hymns for those that seek, and those that have Redemption in the Blood of Christ (1747). Many hymnals, including the Psalter Hymnal, omit the original second stanza, which contained the questionable line "take away our power of sinning." A verse from John Dryden's poem beginning with the words "Fairest isle, all isles excelling" used by Henry Purcell in his opera King Arthur were undoubtedly Wesley's inspiration for writing this text. In fact, "Love Divine" was set to a Purcell tune in John and Charles Wesley's Sacred Melody (1761).

Addressed to Christ, this text begins as a prayer for the indwelling of his love in our lives: "fix in us thy humble dwelling" and "let us all thy life receive" (st. 1-2). A tone of praise and adoration runs throughout the text. But the final stanza is clearly a prayer for sanctification, for consistently holy lives. Though this stanza was an outcome of the Wesleyan doctrine of perfection, it is our fervent Christian prayer that our sanctification will ultimately lead to glorification. As is customary in a Charles Wesley text, biblical allusions abound.

One of the most loved Welsh tunes, HYFRYDOL was composed by Rowland Hugh Prichard in 1830 when he was only nineteen. It was published with about forty of his other tunes in his children's hymnal Cyfaill y Cantorion (The Singers' Friend) in 1844. 

Here is an arrangement by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Sometimes I think they are bit over the top, but this is very nice.  Enjoy.  YOUTUBE

There is another Wesh tune for this hymn, Blaenwern.  Enjoy it here as part of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding.  YOUTUBE