‘O love that will not let me go‘ – a hymn that I recently learnt about, has such beautiful words! What a weight off my shoulders, to know that it’s not upto me to hold on to God – that the pressure is not on me, but that He is already there, holding ME up! I always find it so incredible, that a God who wants us humans to love Him, makes it SO easy for us to do so, but will not cross the line of Free Will. We still have to choose to follow Him.
This song was written by someone who knew loneliness. George C Matheson wrote this hymn in 1882! There are a few different accounts on what exactly happened, but what we do know is that he had a condition which caused his eyesight to fail and he became blind quite early on in life, while he was studying at the University of Edinburgh. He managed to pass with flying colours through the efforts of his sister(s), and was a brilliant scholar. It is said that he wrote this hymn during a very desperate time in his life. The story goes that he had been rejected by his fiancee once she learned that he was going blind, and so his sisters took care of him, and he grew very close to them. However, on the eve of one of his sister’s weddings, he again felt that he was going to be left alone, and was very lonely.
In his own words he says, “My hymn was composed in the manse of Innellan on the evening of the 6th of June, 1882, when I was 40 years of age. I was alone in the manse at that time. It was the night of my sister’s marriage, and the rest of the family were staying overnight in Glasgow. Something happened to me, which was known only to myself, and which caused me the most severe mental suffering.
The hymn was the fruit of that suffering. It was the quickest bit of work I ever did in my life. I had the impression of having it dictated to me by some inward voice rather than of working it out myself. I am quite sure that the whole work was completed in five minutes, and equally sure that it never received at my hands any retouching or correction.
I have no natural gift of rhythm. All the other verses I have ever written are manufactured articles; this came like a dayspring from on high”. (https://www.crichbaptist.org/articles/christian-poetry-hymns/poems-hymns/o-love-that-wilt-not-let-me-go-george-matheson)
I get goosebumps when I hear of stories like this – of songs that seem like they came from the hands of God Himself! What’s more – the composer of the melody of this same hymn also said that the music came to him so quickly – before the ink from the first note was dry! (Yes, those were the days when people wrote with ink on paper!) But what really leaves an impression on me from these stories of the authors behind the hymns, is that they were ordinary people, who chose to follow God and yes, they too had doubts and questions about their faith and about their future, but through their doubt, they trusted in God and saw his hand guide them through the ‘wilderness’ as it were. May it be a comfort to us to know that God doesn’t condemn us for our doubts, He just draws us closer to Him.