I had an experience with this hymn, this weekend.
Someone prayed some lines from this hymn in prayer. After the prayer time someone picked up a book about on the history of hymns and read the paragraph below. However, there is more.
For author, George Matheson, this was no ordinary night. it was the night his sister moved on to a greater glory. You see, his sister supported this blind minister in 20 years of ministry in Edinburgh, Scotland. His beloved sister was moving on to other service.
Some speculate that the loss of his sister caused him to reflect back on the loss of another lady in his life who when at 18 he learned that the disease he had would take him to total blindness. His lady friend at the time decided that she could no longer carry on their relationship. Some of the words in this hymn hint of that love lost. “I yield my flickering torch…” “I trace the rainbow through the rain” These hint that he was yielding both relationships to the Lord for His care.
Matheson said about this hymn:
My hymn was composed in the manse of Innelan [Argyleshire, Scotland] on the evening of the 6th of June, 1882, when I was 40 years of age. I was alone in the manse at that time. It was the night 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 of having it dictated to me by some inward voice rather 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 came like a dayspring from on high.
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.
This is a beautiful story and based on an even more beautiful story which God is developing.
Now, to some other beauty which the Lord allows us believers in Him:
There are not possibly more different renditions of this great hymn or other hymns penned to the glory of God that the following versions of this great hymn. I love each version due to its unique expression of God-infused talent. Each has glory and is worshipful in its delivery.
Enjoy and worship!