O perfect Love, all human thought transcending

Full Text

1 O perfect Love, all human thought transcending,
lowly we kneel in prayer before thy throne,
that theirs may be the love which knows no ending,
whom thou in sacred vow dost join in one.

2 O perfect Life, be thou their full assurance
of tender charity and steadfast faith,
of patient hope and quiet, brave endurance,
with childlike trust that fears no pain or death.

3 Grant them the joy which brightens earthly sorrow;
grant them the peace which calms all earthly strife;
grant them the vision of the glorious morrow
that will reveal eternal love and life.

Psalter Hymnal, 1987

Author: Dorothy F. Gurney

Blomfield, Dorothy F. , was born at 3 Finsbury Circus, Oct. 4, 1858. Miss Blomfield is the eldest daughter of the late Rev. F. G. Blomfield, sometime Rector of St. Andrew's Undershaft, London, and granddaughter of the late Dr. Blomfield, Bishop of London. Her very beautiful hymn for Holy Matrimony, “O perfect Love, all human thought transcending," was written for her sister's marriage in 1883, and was intended to be sung to Strength and Stay, in Hymns Ancient & Modern, No. 12. Subsequently it was set as an anthem by J. Barnby for the marriage of the Duke of Fife with the Princess Louise of Wales, on July 27, 1889. In 1889 it was included in the Supplemental Hymns to Hymns Ancient & Modern, and in 1890 in the Hymnal Companion. --John Ju… Go to person page >

Notes

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Matt. 19:4-6, Eph.3:19, 1 Cor. 13:7, 13

One Sunday evening in 1884 at Pull Wyke, Cumberland, England, Dorothy Francis Blomfield (later Gurney; b. London, England, 1858; d. Kensington, London, 1932) wrote this text for her sister's wedding. The hymn tune STRENGTH AND STAY by John B. Dykes (PHH 147) was her sister's favorite, but that hymn's text (by Ellerton and Hort) included the line "the brightness of a holy death-bed," which made it inappropriate for a wedding. So her sister challenged her to write a new text to fit that tune.

At a later time Gurney said:

After about 15 minutes I came back with the hymn, "O Perfect Love," and there and then we all sang it to the tune of "O Strength and Stay." . . . The writing of it was no effort whatever after the initial idea came to me of the two-fold aspect of a perfect union, love and life, and I have always felt that God helped me to write it.

The text was published in the 1889 Supplement to Hymns Ancient and Modern with a reference to Ruth 1:17. Because of its use at the wedding of Princess Louise and the Duke of Fife that same year, it gained much popularity. Thereafter its place in many hymnals and at many weddings was assured.

"O Perfect Love" is a prayer that Christ's love and life may infuse a wedding couple's new life together. The text, however, would be stronger if it contained a direct address to God or Christ in more customary biblical terms. In 1897, several years after her sister's wedding, Dorothy Blomfield also married. She and her husband, Gerald Gurney, were both children of Anglican clergymen. Initially an actor, Gerald was later ordained in the Church of England. But in 1919 Gerald and Dorothy joined the Roman Catholic community at Farnborough Abbey. Dorothy Gurney wrote several volumes of verse, including A Little Book of Quiet, which contained the once well-known poem "God's Garden."

Liturgical Use:
Weddings (sparingly); renewal of wedding vows in family services with a marriage renewal emphasis.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune

O PERFECT LOVE (Barnby)

Joseph Barnby (PHH 438) composed O PERFECT LOVE and said it was a "hymn tune in the natural style and idiom … of our own time." Originally an anthem, O PERFECT LOVE was shortened into a hymn tune for publication in The Hymnal Companion (1890) and in the Church Hymnary (1898). The tune is also know…

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Instances

Instances (1 - 39 of 39)Text InfoTune InfoTextScoreFlexScoreAudioPage Scan
African American Heritage Hymnal #520TextPage Scan
Ambassador Hymnal: for Lutheran worship #386
Ancient and Modern: hymns and songs for refreshing worship #348Text
Baptist Hymnal 1991 #512TextScoreAudioPage Scan
Christian Worship: a Lutheran hymnal #600TextPage Scan
Church Hymnal, Fifth Edition #544
Common Praise: A new edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern #343Page Scan
Complete Anglican Hymns Old and New #544
Complete Mission Praise #517
Hymns Ancient & Modern, New Standard Edition #280
Hymns and Psalms - 1983 #370
Hymns for a Pilgrim People: a congregational hymnal #290
Hymns of Faith #542TextPage Scan
Hymns Old and New (Rev. and Enl.) #573a
Hymns Old and New (Rev. and Enl.) #573b
Hymns Old and New: New Anglican #387
Lutheran Worship #253
Moravian Book of Worship #427TextPage Scan
Presbyterian Hymnal: hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs #533TextPage Scan
Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #580Text InfoTune InfoTextScoreFlexScoreAudioPage Scan
Sing Joyfully #609TextPage Scan
Singing the Faith #605
Small Church Music #104Audio
Small Church Music #1577Audio
Soul-stirring Songs & Hymns (Rev. ed.) #455
The Celebration Hymnal: songs and hymns for worship #458TextPage Scan
The Cyber Hymnal #5272TextScoreAudio
The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration #533TextPage Scan
The Liturgy of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives #52
The New English Hymnal #320a
The New English Hymnal #320b
The United Methodist Hymnal #645TextScoreFlexScoreAudioPage Scan
The United Methodist Hymnal Music Supplement #266
The Worshiping Church #388TextFlexScorePage Scan
Together in Song: Australian hymn book II #603
Trinity Hymnal (Rev. ed.) #722TextFlexScorePage Scan
Voices United: The Hymn and Worship Book of The United Church of Canada #491Text
Worship and Rejoice #610TextScoreAudioPage Scan
生命聖詩 - Hymns of Life, 1986 #506Text
Include 155 pre-1979 instances



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