I love all things Abba from the song to the fashion. I still have fond memories of getting ready to go out on Saturday evenings with Abba music blaring in the background. I even know all the words of most of the Abba classics. However, I wasn’t really interested in why a particular song was written or what the backstory was.
Recently, I have enjoyed finding out about what prompts a lyricist to write words to go with a particular piece of music.
On a trip to Petworth House in West Sussex I found an interesting book in a second-hand store called ‘The Stories Behind Great Hymns’. I was really pleased to see that one of my favourite hymns was included in it.
‘O Love That Will Not Let Me Go’ by George Mathieson has always been one of my go-to hymns. The words encourage me and keep me going in my walk with Jesus. You can have a listen to the version recorded by ‘The Sound of Wales’ found on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6iL_UInTVs
George Mathieson who wrote those amazing words was suffering from a disease which would eventually cause him to become completely blind. Despite this, he graduated from Glasgow University in the1860’s. It was at university that he suffered the huge disappointment which would later prompt the writing of this beautiful hymn.
He was engaged to be married when his sight started to deteriorate. His fiancee decided to end the relationship as she felt she could not cope with ‘being the wife of a blind man’. Years later the memory of that rejection came flooding back on the eve of his sister’s wedding. He penned these words:
O Love that will 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…
He did not let that deep personal hurt define him and went on to become a church minister. Queen Victoria loved his preaching and prayers. His ministry was long and far-reaching and he pointed many people to Jesus.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Hebrews 12:12.
George Mathieson could not see physically but with his spiritual eyes he kept Jesus at the centre of his whole life.
That’s the challenge to you and to me – wherever we are and whatever we face – let’s keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.