O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High

Full Text

1 O love, how deep, how broad, how high,
beyond all thought and fantasy,
that God, the Son of God, should take
our mortal form for mortals' sake.

2 For us baptized, for us he bore
his holy fast and hungered sore;
for us temptations sharp he knew,
for us, the tempter overthrew.

3 For us by wickedness betrayed,
for us, in crown of thorns arrayed,
he bore the shameful cross and death;
for us gave up his dying breath.

4 For us he rose from death again;
for us he went on high to reign;
for us he sent the Spirit here
to guide, to strengthen, and to cheer.

5 All glory to our Lord and God,
for love so deep, so high, so broad:
the Trinity whom we adore
forever and forevermore.

Source: Glory to God: the Presbyterian Hymnal #618

Author (attributed to): Thomas á Kempis

Thomas of Kempen, commonly known as Thomas à Kempis, was born at Kempen, about fifteen miles northwest of Düsseldorf, in 1379 or 1380. His family name was Hammerken. His father was a peasant, whilst his mother kept a dame's school for the younger children of Kempen. When about twelve years old he became an inmate of the poor-scholars' house which was connected with a "Brother-House" of the Brethren of the Common Life at Deventer, where he was known as Thomas from Kempen, and hence his well-known name. There he remained for six years, and then, in 1398, he was received into the Brotherhood. A year later he entered the new religious house at Mount St. Agnes, near Zwolle. After due preparation he took the vows in 1407, was priested in 1413,… Go to person page >

Translator: Benjamin Webb

Webb, Benjamin, M.A., was born in London in 1820, and was educated in St. Paul's School; whence he passed to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1838, B.A. 1842, M.A. 1845. Ordained by the Bishop [Monk] of Gloucester and Bristol he was Assistant Curate of Kemeston in Gloucestershire, 1843-44; of Christ Church, St. Pancras, 1847-49; and of Brasted, Kent, 1849-51; at which date he was presented to the P. C. of Sheen in Staffordshire, which he held until 1862, when he became Vicar of St. Andrews, Wells Street, London. In 1881 the Bishop [Jackson] of London collated him to the Prebend of Portpool in St. Paul's Cathedral. Mr. Webb was one of the Founders of the Cambridge Camden, afterwards the Ecclesiological Society; and the Editor of the Ecclesio… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: O love, how deep, how broad, how high
Title: O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High
Latin Title: O amor quam ecstaticus!
Author (attributed to): Thomas á Kempis
Translator: Benjamin Webb
Meter: 8.8.8.8
Source: Latin, 15th cent.
Language: English

Notes

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Eph. 3:18-19, Phil. 2:7
st. 2 = Matt. 3:13, Matt. 4:1-11
st. 3 = John 17:9
st. 4 = Rom 4:25, 1 Pet. 2:24
st. 5 = Rom. 8:34, John 16:7, 13

The original anonymous text in Latin ("O amor quam ecstaticus") comes from a fifteenth-century manuscript from Karlsruhe. The twenty-three-stanza text has been attributed to Thomas à Kempis because of its similarities to writings of the Moderna Devotio Movement associated with à Kempis. (that movement was an important precursor of the Reformation in the Netherlands). However, there is insufficient proof that he actually wrote this text.

Benjamin Webb (b. London, England, 1819; d. Marylebone, London, 1885) translated the text in eight stanzas. It was published in The Hymnal Noted (1852), produced by his friend John Mason Neale (PHH 342). Webb received his education at Trinity College, Cambridge, England, and became a priest in the Church of England in 1843. Among the parishes he served was St. Andrews, Wells Street, London, where he worked from 1862 to 1881. Webb's years there coincided with the service of the talented choir director and organist Joseph Barnby (PHH 438), and the church became known for its excellent music program. Webb edited The Ecclesiologist, a periodical of the Cambridge Ecclesiological Society (1842-1868). A composer of anthems, Webb also wrote hymns and hymn translations and served as one of the editors of The Hymnary (1872).

The text has a wide scope, taking in all of Jesus’ incarnate life: his birth (st. 1); identification with human affairs (st. 2); daily ministry (st. 3); crucifixion (st. 4); resurrection, ascension, and gift of the Spirit (st. 5); the final stanza is a doxology (st. 6). Thus the text summarizes Christ's life in the same manner as the Apostles' Creed. A striking feature is the text's emphasis on the fact that Jesus accomplished all of this "for us"; "for us" occurs at least a dozen times! The redemptive work of Christ is very personally, very corporately applied.

Liturgical Use:
Epiphany, especially later in the season; Lent, Holy Week, Easter, Ascension, and at many other times; the final stanza makes a good doxology for Epiphany, Lent, or the Easter season.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune

DEO GRACIAS (English)

Also known as: AGINCOURT

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PUER NOBIS

PUER NOBIS is a melody from a fifteenth-century manuscript from Trier. However, the tune probably dates from an earlier time and may even have folk roots. PUER NOBIS was altered in Spangenberg's Christliches GesangbUchlein (1568), in Petri's famous Piae Cantiones (1582), and again in Praetorius's (P…

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DEUS TUORUM MILITUM

DEUS TUORUM MILITUM (sometimes called GRENOBLE) was published in France in the 1753 Grenoble Antiphoner as a setting for the text "Deus tuorum militum" (“The God of Your Soldiers”). One of the finest French diocesan tunes from the eighteenth century, it represents a departure in Roman Catholic h…

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