God is love, that anthem olden

Representative Text

1 GOD is love; that anthem olden,
Sing the glorious orbs of light,
In their language glad and golden,
Telling to us day and night
Their great story,
God is love and God is light.

Through that precious love He sought us,
Wand’ring from His holy ways,
With that precious Life He bought us;
Then let all our future days
Tell this story:
Love is life—our lives be praise.

3 Gladsome is the theme and glorious,
Praise to Christ our gracious Head,
Christ, the risen Christ, victorious,
Death and hell hath captive led.
Glory, glory!
Love is life—and Death is dead.

4 Up to Him let each affection
Daily rise and round Him move;
Our whole lives one resurrection
To the Life of life above;
Their glad story,
God is life, and God is love.

Source: Redemption Hymnal #27

Author: John S. B. Monsell

John Samuel Bewley Monsell (b. St. Colomb's, Londonderry, Ireland, 1811; d. Guilford, Surrey, England, 1875) was educated at Trinity College in Dublin and served as a chaplain and rector of several churches in Ireland after his ordination in 1835. Transferred to England in 1853, he became rector of Egham in Surrey and was rector of St. Nicholas Church in Guilford from 1870 until his death (caused by a construction accident at his church). A prolific poet, Monsell published his verse in eleven volumes. His three hundred hymns, many celebrating the seasons of the church year, were issued in collections such as Hymns and Miscellaneous Poems (1837), Spiritual Songs (1857), Hymns of Love and Praise (1863), and The Parish Hymnal (1873). Bert P… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: God is love, that anthem olden
Author: John S. B. Monsell
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain


God is love; that anthem olden. J.S.B. Monsell. [God is Love.] A poem for the 1st Sunday after Trinity, appeared in his Spiritual Songs, 1856 and 1857, in 6 stanzas of 6 lines. A second form of the text in 4 stanzas, beginning, “God is love: the heavens tell it," was included in the Rev. F. Pott's Hymns, &c, 1861, No. 209. These stanzas, with a return to the original text save "Our" for "Their" in stanza iv., line 5, are found in the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge Church Hymns, No. 372, Thring's Collection, and several others. The complete text of 1856-57 was repeated by Dr. Monsell in his Parish Hymnal, 1873. During his last illness the hymn was revised by the author for the people's edition of his Spiritual Songs. The opening lines read:—

"God is Love: by Him upholden,
Hang the glorious orbs of light."

This form of the hymn is in Horder's Congregational Hymns, 1884, and others. In the notes to Church Hymns, fol. edition, 1881, it is regarded as the original text in error.

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)



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Redemption Hymnal #27

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