Charles Wesley’s hymn ‘Love Divine, All Love’s Excelling’ is an enduring favourite at weddings and funerals. My old friend David Matthew has just published an analysis of its lyrics under the title of ‘Charles's Off-Day ’.
Many years ago I seem to remember singing this hymn in my Pentecostal church on Pentecost Sunday. I think some of my Pentecostal friends interpreted it as someone seeking the baptism in the Spirit. I always thought this was strange considering it was a Wesleyan hymn.
David shows that this hymn probably is about an idea of a second experience following conversion, but one that they called ‘entire sanctification’. Some have even gone as far as saying that this experience could result in sinless perfection in this life. This was never a popular doctrine. So over the years the words have been tweaked to hide the real meaning - leaving us with some puzzling lyrics.