The Love of God Song Story

THE LOVE OF GOD

“The Love of God” is an incredibly powerful song, and certainly one of my favorites on the Anchored album. When our worship team met together a few weeks ago to preview the album together, hearing the final version of “The Love of God” for the first time was one of the “wow” moments of the night, where we felt the beauty of the lyrics and music coming together in an amazing way.

To give some context to the song, I’m going to walk through the story of the original song as well as Tyler Daniel’s vision for rewriting the song for Redeemer.

“The Love of God” was written by Frederick M. Lehman in 1917. Lehman was a California businessman who had recently lost everything in some business deals gone wrong at the time he wrote the song. He was working long days of manual labor in a Pasadena packing house packing oranges and lemons into wooden crates trying to get back on his feet.  One Sunday he was so moved by a Sunday sermon on the love of God that he had trouble going to sleep. The next morning, he began jotting down lyrics on scrap pieces of paper and broken crates while he was working. When he got home that evening, he began putting together the melody on his piano.

Lehman quickly penned two verses, but songs in those days were considered incomplete without at least three stanzas. As he struggled to find a third verse, he remembered a poem someone had given him years before. He had kept the poem on a card used as a bookmark. At the bottom of the card, Lehman found this written:

    “These words were found written on a cell wall in a prison some 200 years ago. It is not known

    why the prisoner was incarcerated; neither is it known if the words were original or if he had 

    heard them somewhere and had decided to put them in a place where he could be reminded of

    the greatness of God’s love – whatever the circumstances, he wrote them on the wall of his

    prison cell. In due time, he died and the men who had the job of repainting his cell were 

    impressed by the words. Before their paint brushes had obliterated them, one of the men jotted

    them down and thus they were preserved.”

Amazingly, the poem Lehman found fit the melody he had just written, and he had found his third verse!

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.

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

When hoary time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

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.

Below are thoughts Tyler shared with me about why he rewrote the “Love of God”. 

When I started to rewrite the Love of God I wanted to take a hymn that expresses some of the most weighty and beautiful truths about Gods love that were felt through the instrumentation as well as the singing. The chord progression is a weighty one that feels heavy with a Chorus that lifts to this beautiful release when speaking of how pure and strong and deep His love is. At the time I was personally wrestling through what it means to experience God’s love in this weighty of a way. Romans 8 says, 

“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died-more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered’. No in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

As I read these words I desperately wanted to believe the depth of their truth, but often find a great disconnect between my head and my heart. I wanted “The Love of God” to help my soul feel the truth and weight of these words. The bridge is a crying out or an exclamation of God’s inexhaustible and uncontainable love. If we were to fill the ocean with ink and use that ink to write God’s love on the sky we wouldn’t have enough ocean to do so. Nor could we find enough sky to contain the words. This is amazing. This is the Father’s love for us.

Nothing could ever separate us from this love. Nothing. I long for Redeemer to know this deeply, to experience this richly, and to share this love freely with the World. 

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
It 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.

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
From age to age will be our song.

Though time and treasures pass away,
And earthly kings and kingdoms fall,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;

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.