“Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” (ELW 631)
1 Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heav’n, to earth come down!
Fix in us thy humble dwelling,
all thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, thou art all compassion,
pure, unbounded love thou art;
visit us with thy salvation,
enter ev’ry trembling heart.
2 Breathe, oh, breathe thy loving Spirit
Into every troubled breast;
let us all in thee inherit;
Let us find thy promised rest.
Take away the love of sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
end of faith, as its beginning,
set our hearts at liberty.
3 Come, Almighty, to deliver;
let us all thy life receive;
suddenly return, and never,
never more thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
serve thee as thy hosts above,
pray, and praise thee without ceasing,
glory in thy perfect love.
4 Finish then thy new creation,
pure and spotless let us be;
let us see thy great salvation
perfectly restored in thee!
Changed from glory into glory,
till in heav’n we take our place,
till we cast our crowns before thee,
lost in wonder, love and praise!
Charles Wesley wrote the words to this hymn as a prayer for the Holy Spirit, the return of Jesus in the second coming, and the completion of God’s new creation. One way God’s love has come down is in the form of Jesus. God’s compassion is personified. I love the line “Fix in us your humble dwelling.” This dwelling-place is much like the apostle Paul’s idea of our body being a temple. That temple or dwelling-place is a sanctuary for humility, love, and compassion.
This hymn assumes the strong theology of the Trinity—three entities in one God. The verse wraps up with bringing God’s salvation to all because we all have troubled hearts at one time or another. Currently, we are all in the grips of troubled hearts during our “sheltering at home,” with COVID-19 prowling in our neighborhoods. Jesus has fixed in us a humble dwelling for just such times as these.
Compassionate God, help us become humble dwellings for your love for all those we encounter in this world. When we are troubled, give us to know that your mercies are boundless, and your compassion brings us to respond to others with mercy and compassion. We can do no other with such divine love. In your compassionate name. Amen.