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, named Rabbi Meir Ben Isaac Nehorai 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.

Note about Rabbi Meir Ben Isaac Nehorai: He wrote a lengthy poem, “Hadamut,” which extolled God. Later that same year the crusaders invaded the city and murdered all the Jewish people. While we don’t know for sure about the rabbi, he was probably one of their victims as well.

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


  • Hello Leagh! I stumbled onto your blog a couple weeks ago while doing research for my own blog which is very new and very unfinished. I was looking for information on the history of this song and was pleased to find your blog with all your stories and histories. I have especially loved the third verse of this song for decades! Thank you for being there and for helping to keep the old hymns alive. So many of them pull at my heartstrings also, which is why I began to share my heart in this area! I have sent you a friend request on FB in hopes of getting to know you a bit better.

  • John Hartung

    This version of this song shall forevermore be hands down the only one worth hearing this side of heaven. God bless Bill Gaither for getting together all of these old all time greats on gospel music. I can not listen to this and watch these Holy Ghost filled servants of God praise our Lord Jesus, without being overwhelmed with emotion. Thank you for this provided the history of this amazing song. I just KNEW there had to be a tremendous back story. Thank you.

  • Randy W. Hoeppner

    I first heard this amazing song from the lips of George Beverly Shea. I’m so impressed by the back story of this song I’m now familiar with.

  • Meredith

    The person who wrote the last verse’s name was Meir Ben Isaac Nehorai.

  • Jackie Betty

    It’s very refreshing to see write up on “The Love of God.” I wrote a poem with the theme of this song in about 2017. In my poem, I included the story of the person who penned this verse while in an alyssum.

  • Kaye Elliott

    There is a movie about the background of Lehman and his family regarding the song. It is called “Indescribable”. Well worth watching, very moving. We located i through Amazon Prime. May be available on other streams also.

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