Monday, 23 May 2011

Love that will not let me go!

Like many churches we sing a mixture of old and new songs and hymns. I work on the theory that it is not the age that is important but the quality

I don’t play an instrument and apart from a devotion to the music and poetry of Leonard Cohen ( not found in many hymn books!) I have a rather eclectic, but not very informed, taste in music

When it come to music for worship I love a lot of the new stuff and a lot of the older stuff .I think it is important to ask not whether a song is old or new, but whether it is good or bad. This is about the tune but it is, in my view, more about the words, and especially the theology behind those words. So I love a lot of Townend and Wesley, How and Kendrick because in the main they teach great theology .It pains me to say it, but I suspect many Christians learn more about theology from hymns and songs than from preachers.

Yesterday we sung the blind preacher George Matheson's hymn ” O love that wilt not let me go” which some describe as sentimental, but is a favourite of mine, as it speaks so eloquently of the presence of God with His people in suffering .

Matheson himself wrote this about the hymn
it was composed on the evening of the 6th of June, 1882, 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 day spring from on high

The whole story behind the hymn is told here

It is  not often I put in a good word for committees but it is interesting that the Church of Scotland Hymn committee made one change to the original;
 In the line "I climbed the rainbow in the rain" Matheson  had to substitute the word "Traced" for "Climbed"! In my mind a vast improvement.

It may be emotional but it is probably true to say that something is wrong if we cant get emotional about Gods love which hold onto us in the good times and the bad.We are called to love God with everything including our emotions

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