You may have heard the song, “O Love that Will Not Let Me Go” sung by Sandra McCracken and Indelible Grace. A few other artists have recorded their own versions as well. I was introduced to this song by my dear friend Sarah about 5 years ago. Afterwards, it seemed like the song would pop up randomly...even on an NPR radio program one day. So I decided to do a little more research on the song and discovered it is actually an old hymn written in a matter of minutes! What!?
The hymn, "Oh Love that Will Not Let Me Go," was written in 1882 by George Matheson. He had a condition that was causing him to lose his eyesight. He had been engaged, but his fiance broke it off with him because she didn't think she could be married to a blind man. His sister helped care for him up until her marriage. Matheson actually wrote "Oh Love that Will Not Let Me Go" while everyone was away at his sister's wedding. It is believed that the wedding of his sister brought back memories of heartache, which led to him writing the song. Here is what Matheson said about the hymn:
"My hymn was composed in the manse of Innelan [Argyleshire, Scotland] 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 dayspring from on high."
The rainbow pictures were taken by my sister a few years ago. I actually woke Levi up from his nap that day to go look at the rainbows. When we walked outside, it was still raining, but the sun was out and there was this beautiful double rainbow! Anyway, it reminded me of the line in the song that says "I trace the rainbow through the rain, and feel the promise is not vain."
I attend a Mennonite church and we sing this song, but not out of the hymnal (at least not that I’ve ever heard). We do sing the Indelible Grace version of it with the worship team though. In our hymnal it is number 577. Do you sing this hymn? Is it new to you?
O Love that wilt 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 followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.
O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.
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.