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18 September 2022, 22:30 | Updated: 19 September 2022, 11:59
Penned by prolific hymnist Charles Wesley, ‘Love Divine, All Loves Excelling’ was sung by the congregation of Westminster Abbey at the wedding of William and Catherine, Prince and Princess of Wales.
The uplifting words to ‘Love Divine, All Loves Excelling’ were written in 1747 by the prolific hymn lyricist and leader of the English Methodist movement, Charles Wesley, whose stand-out hymnal texts include ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’.
In the years to follow, ‘Love Divine’ would become one of the nation’s favourite hymns. By the end of the 19th century, it was found in 15 of the 17 hymn books consulted by the authors of Lyric Studies.
You can hear Wesley’s words sung to much-loved hymn tunes, most commonly ‘Blaenwern’ by William Penfro Rowlands, but also ‘Beecher’ by John Zundel and ‘Hyfrydol’ by Rowland Hugh Prichard. At Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral at Westminster Abbey, Wesley’s hymn will be performed to the tune of Rowlands’ rousing tune, ‘Blaenwern’.
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Mourners sing Love Divine at Queen Elizabeth's funeral
Charles Wesley was an English lyricist and significant early leader in the mid-18th century Methodist movement, along with his younger brother John Wesley.
The eighteenth child of Anglican cleric and poet Samuel Wesley, and Susanna Wesley, young Charles Wesley was educated at Christchurch College, Oxford University.
He published more than 6,500 hymns, including the carols ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’ and ‘Lo! He Comes With Clouds Descending’. Wesley’s hymns are considered to have been extremely influential not only on Methodism, but on Christian worship as a whole.
Love divine, all loves excelling,
joy of heav’n, 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 ev'ry trembling heart.
Breathe, O breathe thy loving Spirit
into ev’ry troubled breast.
Let us all in thee inherit,
let us find the promised rest.
Take away the love of 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 they 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;
true and spotless let us be.
Let us see thy great salvation
perfectly restored in thee.
Changed from glory into glory,
till in heav’n we take our place,
till we cast our crowns before thee,
lost in wonder, love and praise.
Love Divine, All Loves Excelling (Blaenwern)