Saturday, May 30, 2009

David Matthew on the Hymn 'Love Divine'

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.


David Matthew said...

Good summary, Dave!

David Derbyshire said...

Thanks Dave! I think your article shows very well how Wesley’s original intention was for this to be a song about receiving the second blessing. It also shows how this meaning has been covered up and the hymn changed into the more acceptable idea of gradual sanctification. This song will continue to remind me that whatever I have experienced of God there is always more - like in the old ‘chestnut’ I am saved, I am being saved and one day I will be saved. But my longing now is more for the process to continue than for any new experiences.