You might wonder if Charles Wesley, the writer of this hymn, ever got out of his study (after all, he wrote over 6,000 hymns!). But, in fact, for most of his life he was a traveling preacher… traveling on horseback. In his pocket, he carried little cards on which he scribbled notes in shorthand as thoughts came to him as he rode. Then, as soon as he would reach an inn, he would rush in and ask for a pen and ink… and would write down the hymns he had written. But even that makes being a circuit-riding preacher sound easier than it was.
Once, when a horse threw him, he wrote in his journal: “My companion thought I had broken my neck; but, my leg only was bruised, my hand sprained, and my head stunned, which spoiled my making hymns till the next day.”
Though Charles Wesley had been a classical scholar at Oxford, few of his hymns reveal allusions to the classics. But, this one follows the meter of John Dryden’s “King Arthur”, referring to Camelot: “Fairest isle, all isles excelling, seats of pleasure and of love.” King Arthur may have dreamed of Camelot, but as Charles Wesley rode on horseback from village to village, his thoughts were on Jesus, the divine love, the joy of Heaven.
Read this hymn, and make it your own prayer of praise today!
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.
Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit, into every troubled breast!
Let us all in Thee inherit; let us find that second rest.
Take away our bent to sinning; Alpha and Omega be;
End of faith, as its Beginning, set our hearts at liberty.
Come, Almighty to deliver, let us all Thy life receive;
suddenly return and never, nevermore 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.