George Matheson went irreversibly blind when he was 20. His fiancee said she could not see herself be the wife of a blind man. So she broke their engagement shortly before their wedding date. From that point, his younger sister helped care for him and George went on to become a pastor and seminary lecturer.
Twenty years later, his sister was to be married and would leave him. On the eve of her wedding while he was alone and his family was celebrating in another house, these lines came to him. He said the words came quickly, as if inspired. They reveal a broken, weary man’s agony. The only thing in his heart that was larger than his pain was his deep, sure faith in God and His promises; He was confident that things wouldn’t always be the way they were now.
Mim, this post is for you. Sorry you had to wait this long for it…
1. O Love that wilt not let me go, (there once had been a love that did let him 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. (he knew God would value his contribution; he believed he had something to offer)
2. O Light that foll’west all my way,
I yield my flick’ring torch to Thee; (a reference to his blindness)
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be. (again, he had something to give God—a humble, faithful act of offering)
3. O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee; (it is easier to close your heart in the presence of pain)
I trace the rainbow thru the rain, (in his blindness, he couldn’t see it, except through his fingers and then only in faith)
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be. (his faith knew his what his sight couldn’t: that sunshine comes after rain)
4. O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee; (the human response to pain is to fly from it)
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be. (his faith knew there would be color someday)
Lyrics: George Matheson
Music: Albert Lister Peace, arr. by David Phelps
8 thoughts on “Story of a Hymn”
Happy Birthday Anita thanks for the Post it was meant for me today very challenging
Thanks, Thomas! And happy birthday to you soon, too!
Pain, surrender, death, resurrection, and freedom. The song is simple yet epic in its scope. Thanks for posting the video. Jean and I watched it together. It was like drinking from a deep, healing well.
So glad the song gave you something special! This rendition usually makes me cry because of its depth and richness.
Thanks Anita… This is beautiful!
You get it, don’t you, Lorita? 😉
Anita, I feel inspired and challenged by your blog posts! Thank you for taking time to write!! ~ Sara Nisly
“His fiancee said she could not see herself be the wife of a blind man…” Ha ha ha, I see what you/they did there. 🙂
This is indeed a masterful arrangement of a song that is hauntingly beautiful straight out of the hymnal! I had forgotten about this particular rendition…