The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

For Advent

Words: Charles Wesley, 1747

Source: Charles Wesley, Hymns for Those that Seek and Those that have Redemption in the Blood of
Jesus Christ
. (London: Strahan, 1747)
This hymn first published in "MS Thirty," and also appeared in "MS Shent."

Music: "Hyfrydol," MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF / XML
"Love Divine," Sir John Stainer, MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF / XML
Blaenwern, Airedale, Moriah

Meter: 87 87 D

Hymn IX
To: “Jesus, shew us thy salvation.”

1 Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heaven to earth come down,
Fix in us thy humble dwelling,
All thy faithful mercies crown;
Jesu, thou art all compassion,
Pure unbounded love thou art,
Visit us with thy salvation,
Enter every trembling heart.

2 Breathe, O breathe thy loving Spirit
Into every troubled breast,
Let us all in thee inherit,
Let us find that second rest:
Take away our power of sinning,
Alpha and Omega be,
End of faith as its beginning,
Set our hearts at liberty.

3 Come, Almighty to deliver,
Let us all thy life receive,
Suddenly return, and never,
Never more thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
Serve thee as thy hosts above,
Pray, and praise thee without ceasing,
Glory in thy perfect love.

4 Finish then thy new creation,
Pure and sinless let us be,
Let us see thy great salvation,
Perfectly restor’d in thee;
Chang’d from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise!

Sheet Music "Love Divine" by George F. Le Jeune, 1872, from Henry Sloane Coffin and Ambrose White Vernon, eds., Hymns of the Kingdom of God. New York: The A. S. Barnes Company, 1910, #109.


Verse 2, and especially line 5, are a source of controversy, as some feel that this asks that our power of free will be removed. The verse is either omitted or changed.

This is the text as it appeared in MS Thirty:

1. Love Divine, all Loves excelling,
Joy of Heaven to Earth come down,
Fix in Us thy humble Dwelling,
All thy faithful Mercies crown;
Jesus Thou art all Compassion,
Love, unbounded Love Thou art,
Visit us with Thy Salvation,
Enter every trembling Heart.

2. Breathe, O breathe thy Loving Spirit
Into every troubled Breast,
Let us All in Thee inherit,
Let us find the Second Rest;
Take away Our Power of Sinning,
Alpha and Omega be,
End of Faith as it’s Beginning,
Set our Hearts at Liberty.

3. Come Almighty to deliver,
Let us all Thy Life receive,
Suddenly return, and never
Never more Thy Temples leave,
Thee we would be always blessing,
Serve Thee as the Hosts above,
Pray, and praise Thee without ceasing,
Glory in thy Dying Love.

4. Finish then Thy New Creation,
Pure and sinless let us be,
Let us see Thy great Salvation
Perfectly restor’d in Thee,
Chang’d from Glory into Glory,
Till in Heaven we take our Place,
Sing, and cast our Crowns before Thee
Lost in Wonder, Love, and Praise.

It was pointed out in "The Bell" (Autumn 2006) that the tune "Love Divine," was a sacred parody of Henry Purcell's secular tune "Fairest isle, all isles excelling." "The Bell" is a periodic publication of Stainer & Bell Ltd., London. They were giving notice to the interesting book Borrowing in English Church Music 1550 - 1950, Judith Blezzard (London: Stainer & Bell, 1990). The note was in the context of a headline which quoted Rev. Rowland Hill (1744-1833) who purportedly stated "I do not see any reason why the devil should have all the good tunes."

One version of this hymn that I saw was cast as a recessional with the women singing the first verse, the men singing the second verse, and all singing the third and fourth verses.

See and play the Noteworthy Composer score if you have installed the NoteWorthy Composer Browser Plug-in


Only tested by Noteworthy for Netscape, Opera, and IE Browsers (Versions 4 or 5)
In my experience, it also works with Firefox.

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