Song story: The Love of God

Frederick M. Lehman, the 20th Century author and composer of the hymn The Love of God, wrote a pamphlet in 1948. He wrote the following account of writing the song in his pamphlet “History of the Song, The Love of God.”

Frederick M. Lehman

“While at camp meeting in a mid-western state, some fifty years ago in our early ministry, an evangelist climaxed his message by quoting the last stanza of this song. The profound depths of the lines moved us to preserve the words for future generations.

Not until we had come to California did this urge find fulfillment, and that at a time when circumstances forced us to hard manual labor. One day, during short intervals of inattention to our work, we picked up a scrap of paper and, seated upon an empty lemon box pushed against the wall, with a stub pencil, added the (first) two stanzas and chorus of the song.

…Since the lines (3rd stanza from the Jewish poem) had been found penciled on the wall of a patient’s room in an insane asylum after he had been carried to his grave, the general opinion was that this inmate had written the epic in moments of sanity.

The key-stanza (Third verse) under question as to its authorship was written nearly one thousand years ago by a Jewish songwriter, and put on the score page by F. M. Lehman, a Gentile songwriter, in 1917.”

Circumstances forced Lehman into manual labor, which reports say were packing oranges and lemons into wooden crates. But the lyrics flowed through his heart as he worked and later created the first two stanzas of this hymn. He remembered the lyrics he had scribbled so long ago at the revival meeting.

Lehman wrote “These words were found written on a cell wall in a prison some 200 years ago. It is not known why the prisoner was incarcerated; neither is it known if the words were original or if he had heard them somewhere and had decided to put them in a place where he could be reminded of the greatness of God’s love – whatever the circumstances, he wrote them on the wall of his prison cell. In due time, he died and the men who had the job of repainting his cell were impressed by the words. Before their paint brushes had obliterated them, one of the men jotted them down and thus they were preserved.”

Rev. Lehman, a German gentile, died in Pasadena, California in 1953. He had written hundreds of gospel songs over the course of his life and founded the Nazarene Publishing House in Kansas City,Missouri.

The Love of God remains for all who are willing to accept it and the song lingers for future generations to discover and love. Many hymnals carry the song within their pages.

 

Writings on a prison wall hundreds of years ago inspired the song The Love of God #songstory Click To Tweet