What God has joined together, let man not separate. Matthew 19:6
Words: Dorothy F. Gurney, 1883.
If you know where to get a better photo of Gurney (head & shoulders, at least 200×300 pixels),
It was Sunday evening [at Pull Wyke, Windermere, England] and we were enjoying a time of hymn singing. A song that was particularly enjoyed by all of us was O Strength and Stay, the tune to which was a favorite of my sister.
As we finished singing this hymn, someone remarked,What a pity the words of this beautiful song should be unsuitable for a wedding!
My sister turned to me and challenged,What is the use of a sister who composes poetry if she cannot write new words to a favorite tune? I would like to use the tune at my wedding.
I picked up a hymnbook and said,If no one will disturb me, I will go into the library and see what I can do.Within 15 minutes I was back with the group and reading the words I had jotted down.
The writing of the words was no effort whatever after the initial idea came to me of the twofold aspect of perfect union, love and life. I feel that God helped me write this song.
O perfect Love, all human thought transcending,
Lowly we kneel in prayer before Thy throne,
That theirs may be the love which knows no ending,
Whom Thou forevermore dost join in one.
O perfect Life, be Thou their full assurance,
Of tender charity and steadfast faith,
Of patient hope and quiet, brave endurance,
With childlike trust that fears nor pain nor death.
Grant them the joy which brightens earthly sorrow;
Grant them the peace which calms all earthly strife,
And to life’s day the glorious unknown morrow
That dawns upon eternal love and life.
Hear us, O Father, gracious and forgiving,
Through Jesus Christ, Thy coeternal Word,
Who, with the Holy Ghost, by all things living
Now and to endless ages art adored.