O Love That Will Not Let Me Go

Here’s the backstory for this tremendous hymn from The Gospel Coalition:

O Love that will 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 foll’west all my way
I yield my flick’ring torch to thee
My heart restores its borrowed ray
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be

Stabilizing lines, especially for those in darkness.

Do you know the story behind it?

At age 20 George Matheson (1842-1906) was engaged to be married but began going blind. When he broke the news to his fiancee, she decided she could not go through life with a blind husband. She left him. Before losing his sight he had written two books of theology and some feel that if he had retained his sight he could have been the greatest leader of the church of Scotland in his day.

A special providence was that George’s sister offered to care for him. With her help, George left the world of academia for pastoral ministry and wound up preaching to 1500 each week–blind.

The day came, however, in 1882, when his sister fell in love and prepared for marriage herself. The evening before the wedding, George’s whole family had left to get ready for the next day’s celebration. He was alone and facing the prospect of living the rest of his life without the one person who had come through for him. On top of this, he was doubtless reflecting on his own aborted wedding day twenty years earlier. It is not hard to imagine the fresh waves of grief washing over him that night.

In the darkness of that moment George Matheson wrote this hymn. He remarked afterward that it took him five minutes and that it was the only hymn he ever wrote that required no editing.

O love that will not let me go. Heartening hope for you and me.

Here’s the last stanza.

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

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2 Comments

  • Eddy says:

    Where did you find the backstory for this hymn? I’ve wanted to research some other hymns and don’t really know where to start.

  • MK says:

    Eddy – This one just happened to come up on the blog I linked to above, but you might check out the book called “Then Sings My Soul.” It’s got the stories of many hymns in it. I’ve used it before.

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