Scripture Verse

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


Dorothy F. Gurney (1858–1932)

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 (1838–1896)

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.