Love Divine, All Loves Excelling (Hymn Story)
Charles Wesley wrote something like six thousand hymns during his lifetime. He spent much of his life on horseback traveling from church to church, so you might wonder how he accomplished this. A part of the answer is found in the fact that he was naturally gifted -- poetry welled up in him, allowing him to express his deep faith through hymns. Another part of the answer is that he organized himself for his task. He developed a kind of shorthand so that he could quickly jot down ideas as they came to him. He carried note cards in his pocket so that he could record his thoughts even while riding a horse. When he reached his destination, he would transform his rough notes into finished verse.
"Love Divine, All Loves Excelling" is one of Wesley's greatest hymns. The hymn is really a prayer -- a prayer to Jesus, who is "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling." It invites Jesus to make his dwelling in us -- to visit us with his salvation -- to enter our hearts. It invites him to take away our love of sinning -- to set our hearts at liberty. It concludes by asking Jesus to finish his new creation (we are his new creation) so that we might be pure and spotless -- perfectly restored -- ready for heaven.
As you sing this hymn, keep in mind that it is a prayer -- that you are asking God to dwell in you -- to visit you with his salvation -- to enter your heart.
–– Copyright 2006, Richard Niell Donovan