O Love, that wilt not let me go

O Love, that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
O Light, that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.
O Joy, that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall tearless be.
O Cross, that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

The author was inspired to write this hymn in 5 minutes during a time of distress.

Fergus Tyson

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Hi, Paula. The red life refers to the blood of Jesus, shed on the Cross.

Paula Skinner

Hudson, NH, United States

“And from the ground there blossoms red

Life that shall endless be. “

What does red life refer to?


Vellore, Tamilnadu, India

I came from the utter darkness into Jesus’ marvellous Light 54 years ago. My wife Rose, and me are married for 53 years now. We turn back to see our walk with Lord Jesus Christ all these years; it’s amazingly surprises us. Left to us, we would have fallen as a prey to the vices of the world. The secret of our success in life, squarely stays upon the faithfulness of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. His love never permitted nor allowed us to go astray. We love this hymn. O love, that wilt not let me go.........

Samuel Zhang

London, ON, Canada

"O Love, that wilt not let me go" - though we often reject the Lord, forget about Him, and detract from our consecration, He will never let us go! We may give up on the Lord, but He will not give up on us.

Sara Orozco

Laredo, Texas, United States

O Joy, that seekest me through pain,

I cannot close my heart to Thee;

Even in our pain He comes to us as JOY.

So how can we close our heart to Him?!

Lord, keep being our joy!

Kevin Conover

Eustace, TX, United States

This is one of those timeless hymns that lends itself to most beautiful harmony.. I find it fascinating that after all the decades of this being sung-one of the best renditions of it is by a barbershop chorus on you tube.

Ana Lara

United States

This is one of the most loved hymns of the latter part of the nineteenth century. The writing of the text is remarkable considering the author was completely blind and describes the writing as the “fruit of much suffering. ”

George Matheson was born in Glasgow, Scotland, March 27, 1842. As a boy he had partial vision and after he began attending Glasgow University, he became totally blind at age eighteen. He graduated from Glasgow and finished the Seminary of the Church of Scotland with high honors despite having this handicap. In 1886 he became the pastor of the St. Bernard’s Parish Church in Edinburg which had 2, 000 members. He became one of Scotland’s renowned preachers loved by the people of Edinburgh and who attracted large crowds. Although Matheson never married, he was assisted by his beloved sister. She even learned Greek, Latin and Hebrew in order to help him out in his study of theology. She also became his co-worker in helping him in his pastoral duties.

There’s a popular account on why George Matheson wrote this text. His fiancée left him before their marriage when she found out he would soon be totally blind. There are some phrases in the hymn reflecting a broken heart such as “flickering torch” and “borrowed ray” in the second stanza and the tracing of the “rainbow through the rain” in the third stanza and finally “cross” in the last verse.

Dr. Matheson did leave an account of his writing of this hymn:

“My hymn was composed in the manse of Innellan on the evening of June 6th, 1882. I was at the time alone. It was the day of my sister’s marriage, and the rest of the family were staying overnight in Glasgow. Something happened to me, which was known only to myself, and which caused me the most severe mental suffering. The hymn was the fruit of that suffering. It was the quickest bit of work I ever did in my life. I had the impression rather of having it dictated to me by some inward voice than of working it out myself. I am quite sure that the whole work was completed in five minutes, and equally sure that it never received at my hands any retouching or correction. I have no natural gift of rhythm. All the other verses I have ever written are manufactured articles; this one came like a dayspring from on high. I have never been able to gain once more the same fervor in verse. ”

The hymn appeared in the Church of Scotland monthly magazine, ”Life and Work, ” in January, 1883. The tune was composed one year later by a well-known Scottish organist of his day, Albert L. Peace, who was asked by the Scottish Hymnal Committee to write a tune especially for Matheson’s text. Peace’s own account of the writing of this tune is as follows, “After reading it over carefully, I wrote the music straight off, and may say that the ink of the first note was hardly dry when I had finished the tune. ”

The significance of the tune’s name, “St. Margaret, ” is because of Queen Margaret, who was canonized in 1251.

In the last years of his life, Matheson spent them writing some of the finest devotional literature in the English language such as “Moments on the Mount, ” “Voice of the Spirit, ” and “Rests by the River”. This is the only hymn found in most hymnals but he wrote a number of spiritual hymns such as “Make Me a Captive Lord, ” and “Then I Shall be Free. ”

The four key words of “O Love That Wilt Nor Let Me Go” are Love, Light, Joy, and Cross. The words are the total fulfillment of a believer’s subjective experience for those who have consecrated themselves to the will of God.

Cody Enderli

Anaheim, CA, United States

I rest my weary soul in Thee

I give Thee back the life I owe

My life is not my own. Lord, help me never forget this. Praise you for your mercy that you have granted me a vision. I long to know more of you.

Take my life and use it to your desire and for your purpose.

Gill Thompson

York, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom

I love this hymn, so much that I want it sung at my funeral. I have been disabled and in pain since childhood (I am now 71) and the third verse in particular has kept me going over the years - the thought that when I go to be with the Lord there will be no more pain or tears.

John Buckley

Gilingham, Kent, United Kingdom

Like many hymns this is very moving and of course so true.