O LOVE THAT WILT NOT LET ME GO                                       written in 1882

The Story

George Matheson (1842-1906), who wrote this hymn, went completely blind when he was 18-years-old. He remained a star student despite his blindness. He went on to become a great preacher in the Church of Scotland, assisted by his sister, who learned Greek and Hebrew to help her brother with his research.

George wrote this hymn when he was 40-years-old, on the evening of his sister’s wedding. He described the circumstances surrounding the writing this way: “I was at that time alone. It was the day of my sister’s marriage… Something happened to me, that was known only to myself, and which caused me the most severe mental suffering. This hymn was the fruit of that suffering.” He wrote this hymn in about 5 minutes.

What severe mental suffering was he writing about? Was he remembering back to the time when his fiancée broke off their engagement after learning he would soon become completely blind… and she told him she could not go through life with a blind man?  Or maybe it was because his beloved sister was getting married, and he would be left completely alone.

Whatever the solution to that mystery, George had discovered – in Christ – a love that would not let him go. So can we… even in the darkest of times.

Because of the tune, this song is an odd song to sing, but focus on the words…

The Song

            Read this hymn, and – today – relax into God’s relentless love.

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.


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