Saturday, 28 July 2012

THE LOVE OF GOD


At a camp-meeting in a mid-western state, the preacher concluded his message by quoting what later became the last stanza of the famous song “The Love of God.” The profound depths of the lines moved author and composer Frederick M. Lehman to preserve the words for future generations. Not until he had gone to California did this urge find fulfillment, and that at a time when circumstances forced him to do hard manual labor.

One day in 1917, during short intervals of inattention to his work, he picked up a scrap of paper and, seated upon an empty lemon box pushed against a wall, with a stub pencil in his hand, he added the first two stanzas and chorus of the song.

What became the 3rd stanza had been found penciled on the wall of a patient's room in an insane asylum, and the general opinion was that this inmate had written the epic in moments of sanity. But in reality, the key stanza was written nearly one thousand years earlier by a Jewish songwriter. Here is part of the original Jewish poem as written in Aramaic by Rabbi Mayer of Worms, Germany in the year 1096:

Were the sky of parchment made,
A quill each reed, each twig and blade,
Could we with ink the oceans fill,
Were every man a scribe of skill,
The marvelous story of God's great glory
Would still remain untold;
For He, most high, the earth and sky
Created alone of old.

Of course, we know the song this way:
The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall for evermore endure,
The saints' and angels' song.
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