379. What Wondrous Love

1 What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul?

2 When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
when I was sinking down, sinking down;
when I was sinking down beneath God's righteous frown,
Christ laid aside his crown for my soul, for my soul,
Christ laid aside his crown for my soul.

3 To God and to the Lamb I will sing, I will sing,
to God and to the Lamb I will sing;
to God and to the Lamb, who is the great I AM
while millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing,
while millions join the theme, I will sing.

4 And when from death I'm free, I'll sing on, I'll sing on,
and when from death I'm free, I'll sing on;
and when from death I'm free, I'll sing and joyful be,
and through eternity I'll sing on, I'll sing on,
and through eternity I'll sing on.

Text Information
First Line: What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul
Title: What Wondrous Love
Publication Date: 1987
Meter: 12 9 12 12 9
Scripture: Revelation 5:6-14; Philippians 2:11; John 19:42; Revelation 5:11; John 18:40
Topic: Cross of Christ; Epiphany & Ministry of Christ; Love: God's Love to Us3 more...
Source: S. Mead's A General Selection, 1811
Language: English
Tune Information
Name: WONDROUS LOVE
Harmonizer: Emily R. Brink (1986)
Meter: 12 9 12 12 9
Incipit: 11724 54211 72576
Key: d minor or modal
Copyright: Harmonization © 1987, CRC Publications


Text Information:

Scripture References:
all st. = Rev. 5

Although various sources have attributed this text to a number of different writers, it remains anonymous. "What Wondrous Love" was first published in both Stith Mead's hymnal for Methodists, A General Selection of the Newest and Most Admired Hymns and Spiritual Songs (1811), and in Starke Dupuy's hymnal for Baptists, Hymns and Spiritual Songs (1811).

Like 103 and 305, the text is addressed to the soul. It meditates on Christ's wonderful love (st. 1), which brought about our salvation (st. 2), a love to which we and the "millions" respond with eternal praise (st. 3-4).

Liturgical Use:
Lent; stanzas 1-3 for services of confession/forgiveness; funeral services (entire hymn); stanza 2 with preaching about Jonah; stanza 3 as a doxology.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

WONDROUS LOVE was first set to this text in William Walker's (PsH 44) second edition of Southern Harmony (1840). Publication of the hymn in B. F. White's The Sacred Harp (1844) further promoted the combination of text and tune. The meter of "What Wondrous Love" derives from an old English ballad about the infamous pirate Captain Kidd:

My name was Robert Kidd, when I sailed, when I sailed;
My name was Robert Kidd, when I sailed;
My name was Robert Kidd, God's laws I did forbid,
So wickedly I did when I sailed, when I sailed
So wickedly I did when I sailed.

Described by Erik Routley (PHH 31) as "incomparably beautiful," the tune is in ABA form and in Dorian or Aeolian mode (depending on which version is used or which "authentic" performance is heard). The setting is by Emily R. Brink (PHH 158). The Hymnal 1982 (439) includes the original three-part setting with the melody in the tenor; that setting could be useful for choirs alternating with the congregation on the hymnal setting. Sing unaccompanied, or use light accompaniment for stanzas 1 and 2, gradually becoming more forceful through stanza 3, and use full organ (or piano) for stanza 4.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook


Media
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