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.
Lines in italics above are taken from the Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs hymnal ©2018. All rights reserved.
All rights reserved. Without the express written permission of the publisher, this publication may not be reproduced or transmitted, whether in whole or in part, in any form or by any means - electronic, mechanical, photocopy, storage retrieval system, recording, or any other.