Scripture Verse

What God has joined together, let man not separate. Matthew 19:6


Dorothy F. Gurney

Words: Do­ro­thy F. Gur­ney, 1883.

Music: Per­fect Love Jo­seph Barn­by, 1890 (🔊 pdf nwc). Barn­by wrote the mu­sic for this hymn, to be used at the wed­ding of Prin­cess Lou­ise of Wales and the Duke of Fife.

Alternate Tunes:

If you know where to get a bet­ter pho­to of Gur­ney (head & shoul­ders, at least 200×300 pix­els),

Joseph Barnby

Origin of the Hymn

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.

Dorothy Gur­ney


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.