By Hymn Stories
Frederick Whitfield, 1829-1904
"We love because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19)
This simply stated, lilting musical testimony has been another of the Sunday school favorites since it was first published in leaflet form in 1855. It has since been translated into various languages and has been included in numerous evangelical hymnals.
The words express so well the response of believers of any age as we reflect on all that Christ has done and continues to do for us daily. Indirectly, the hymn also exalts the written Word, for it is only through the study of the revealed written Word that we gain a true knowledge of the Living Word.
The text originally included eight stanzas. Several interesting verses not found in present hymnals include these words:
"It tells me of a Father's smile that beams upon His child.
It cheers me through this little while, through deserts waste and wild.
It bids my trembling soul rejoice, and dries each rising tear.
It tells me in a still small voice, to trust and not to fear."
The author, Frederick Whitfield, was an Anglican church clergyman. He is credited with more than 30 books of religious verse. The anonymous tune is a typical 19th century American folk song used in the campground meetings of that time.
Even a century after they were written, these ageless words are still appropriate for expressing our love and devotion for Christ:
"There is a name I love to hear; I love to sing its worth; it sounds like music in mine ear, the sweetest name on earth.
"It tells me of a Savior's love, who died to set me free; it tells me of His precious blood, the sinner's perfect plea.
"It tells me what my Father hath in store for ev'ry day, and, tho I tread a darksome path, yields sunshine all the way.
"It tells of One whose loving heart can feel my deepest woe, who in each sorrow bears a part that none can bear below.
"Chorus: O how I love Jesus, O how I love Jesus, O how I love Jesus--because He first loved me!"
For Today: John 14:23; Philippians 2:9-11; 1 Peter 1:8; 1 John 4:7-21; Jude 21