There's a wideness in God's mercy,
like the wideness of the sea;
there's a kindness in God's justice
which is more than liberty.
There is no place where earth's sorrows
are more felt than up in heav'n.
There is no place where earth's failings
have such kindly judgment giv'n.
There is welcome for the sinner,
and a promised grace made good;
there is mercy with the Savior;
there is healing in his blood.
There is grace enough for thousands
of new worlds as great as this;
there is room for fresh creations
in that upper home of bliss.
For the love of God is broader
than the measures of our mind;
and the heart of the Eternal
is most wonderfully kind.
But we make this love too narrow
by false limits of our own;
and we magnify its strictness
with a zeal God will not own.
'Tis not all we owe to Jesus;
it is something more than all:
greater good because of evil,
larger mercy through the fall.
Make our love, O God, more faithful;
let us take you at your word,
and our lives will be thanksgiving
for the goodness of the Lord.
Faber's lyrics come from the mid-nineteenth century, a time during which many were crossing the sea to seek a "better" life. The still new American States as well as the burgeoning colonies of the world's empires in Africa, South America and the Indian subcontinent promised a liberty and freedom unmatched in human history. From the vantage point of the future though, we are able to see that this liberty was a boon to some, while shamefully, a burden for many.
Perhaps Faber has an insight to this discrepancy of justice when he describes the wideness of God's mercy exceeding even that of the mighty ocean traversed by so many desperately seeking that better life. So much so that in verse 3 he appeals to the "broader love of God" that we so often make "narrow" by "false limits of our own." Thus comes the appeal in the final verse that God might make our love "more faithful" and our "thanksgiving" a reflection of God's goodness.