My Song is Love Unknown

Hymn Lyrics by Samuel Crossman (1664), Music by John Ireland (1918)
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Hymn Lyrics

My song is love unknown,
  my Saviour’s love to me;
love to the loveless shown,
  That they might lovely be.
    O who am I,
      that for my sake
      my Lord should take
    frail flesh and die?

He came from his blest throne
  salvation to bestow;
but men made strange, and none
  the longed-for Christ would know.
    But O, my Friend,
      my Friend indeed,
      who at my need
    his life did spend!

Sometimes they strew His way,
  and His sweet praises sing;
resounding all the day
   hosannas to their King.
    Then ‘Crucify!’
      is all their breath,
      and for His death
    they thirst and cry.

Here might I stay and sing:
  no story so divine;
never was love, dear King,
  never was grief like Thine!
    This is my Friend,
      in Whose sweet praise
      I all my days
    could gladly spend

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Years since this tune first existed

A hymn of selfless love

This is one of two hymns in this album written in the 1600s! This was one among nine hymns written by Samuel Crossman. The lyrics convey what happened to Jesus as he took on the cross for the sake of mankind. The hymn is written from the standpoint of someone who is watching the events unfold and can only helplessly sing about it, without being able to stop the proceedings which led to Jesus’ death. The lyrics highlight the cruel truth that Jesus was without sin, and yet the crowds called for him to be put to death.
We didn’t include all the verses of the hymn in our version, but do have a read through them when you get a chance – the lyrics are truly beautiful. They talk of how Jesus had no place to call his own here on earth – even his tomb was given by a stranger. It talks of our unworthiness, as faulty, sinful people. A hymn that works well for a good Friday service.
The music for this hymn was added much later, in 1918, by John Ireland, the tune was called ‘Love unknown’ It is said that this hymn was composed in 15 minutes on the back of a menu while on a lunch break. The tune was credited with bringing the hymn out of obscurity which it had fallen into during Victorian times.

On the Author / Composer