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Posts Tagged "Inclusive Church":

New Hymn: ‘Love Divine, All Loves Embracing’


 Have you ever tried to write a hymn – from scratch, that is? I have, and it is a lot harder than it looks. This is why the text of most of the hymns in our hymnals comes unstuck at some point. The more ancient the language, the less noticeable are the infelicities. This is why poor old Graham Kendrick and his ilk get so much flak from the traditionalists, who squirm at some of the lyrics. Of course, if the music is good enough, people don’t take so much notice of the words.

You may have read the recent guest post on this blog by Chris Fewings. He gave it the splendid title, ‘Love Divine, All Loves Embracing‘ – playing on the first line of one of the Church of England’s favourite hymns, ‘Love Divine, All Loves Excelling’. He then challenged me to produce a draft text for the whole amended hymn. I like challenges. But I am no poet, and this was a rather tall order. Nevertheless, I do think it is a good idea, and someone has to produce the first effort – a coconut shy for our readers to chuck coconuts at. So here it is.

I decided on these guiding principles:

  • I would aim to produce a real new hymn, that could be used in genuine services;
  • The sense of the hymn would be that human love for other humans overflows into love for God, and love for God overflows into love for other humans;
  • I would stick fairly closely to the original, only changing the text where there was an opportunity to put across an ‘inclusive’ message;
  • For obvious reasons, I would not use ‘man’ or ‘mankind’, but this made the drafting more difficult;
  • The result would aim to look therefore as if it could have been written by Charles Wesley, as was the original, and not an obvious parody.
This is my attempt:


Love Divine, all loves embracing,

Joy of heaven, to earth come down,

Thee we would be always praising,

All thy grace and mercy crown.

Jesus, thou art all compassion,

Pure unbounded love thou art;

Encompass love of every fashion,

Enter each adoring heart.

Come, almighty to deliver,

Let us all thy grace receive;

Human love and love of the Father

Blend in us when we believe.

Thee we would be always blessing,

Interceding through thy Dove, (1)

Pray, and praise thee, without ceasing,

Glory in thy perfect love.

Finish then thy new creation

Rainbow colours let us be;

Showing all thy great salvation,

Lovingly bestowed by thee,

Changed from glory into glory,

Till in heaven we take our place,

Till we cast our crowns before thee,

Lost in wonder, love, and praise!

 Here is the original text for comparison:

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,
Pure unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation;
Enter every trembling heart.

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.

Finish, then, Thy new creation;
Pure and spotless let us be.
Let us see Thy great salvation
Perfectly restored in Thee;
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before Thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise.


The text of the original version is taken from Net Hymnal, but is set to ‘the wrong tune’, Beecher. The ‘proper’ tune is Blaenwern. (YMMV!)

(1)Difficult line – Help! Idea is Intercession of the Spirit – can anyone improve on this?

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