The Love of God

From obscurity to renown is the journey of this great song. The seed of its birth comes in stanza four. The lines, translated by an unknown hand, were part of a Jewish epic written in Aramaic in 1050. This adaption of the fourth stanza, scrawled upon the cell wall of an insane asylum, was found after an inmate’s death. Presumably, the poor soul, having heard it at a previous occasion, copied it during fleeting moments of clarity. Nine centuries after the original pen, around the turn of the twentieth century, Frederick Lehman heard the rhyme repeated in a gospel meeting. “the profound depths of the lines moved us to preserve the words for future generations,” Lehman testified. Yet, it would be nearly two decades before his desire was fulfilled. “One day, during short intervals of inattention to our work, we picked up a scrap of paper and, seated upon an empty lemon box pushed against the wall, with a stub pencil, added the (first) two stanzas and chorus of the song.” Lehman’s melody was harmonized by his daughter, Claudia, and first appeared in the second volume of his collection entitled “Songs That Are Different.”

The original stanzas were based on a Jewish poem called Hadamut, written in 1096 by Rabbi Mayar, a cantor in Worms, Germany. The poem was written in the form of an acrostic with ninety verses. The poem, written in two sections, describes God as the ruler of the world and tells a history of His people both in their persecution and the future God has for them.

Lehman pastored many churches in his lifetime and ended up in Kansas City, MO. He wrote many poems and songs during his ministry, of which “The Love of God” is the most famous. Thanks to the work of Mr. Lehmen and his daughter, we are still able to read and sing the beautiful lyrics today.


The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star
And reaches to the lowest hell.
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God clothed in coats of skins,
His erring child he reconciled,
And pardoned from his sins.
The dying thief rejoiced to find
A pardon and a paradise;
And from the sick and halt and blind
His praise reechoed to the skies.
O love divine, this tongue of mine
His praises shall proclaim;
And o’er and o’er on yonder shore,
Give glory to his name!
When hoary time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall:
When men who here refuse to pray
On rocks and hills and mountains call:
God’s love, so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race –
The saints’ and angels’ song.
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made:
Were ev’ry stalk on earth a quill,
And ev’ry man a scribe by trade:
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry,
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
Though stretched from sky to sky.
O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure –
The saints’ and angels’ song.





Lines in italics above are taken from the Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs hymnal ©2018. All rights reserved.


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