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O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go – Stanza 2

A few weeks ago we examined the first stanza of George Matheson’s hymn O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go. In it we discovered the love of God characterized by the relentless grace of God which refuses to let us go. We saw that those who are loved by God can rest their weary souls in him because he has loved us with an everlasting love. Today we examine the second stanza:


O Light that foll’west all my way
I yield my flick’ring torch to thee
My heart restores its borrowed ray.
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

We notice first that Matheson addresses God here as a light which follows him all his way. This has faint echoes of Psalm 119 where we are told that God’s word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our paths. In the same way that a lamp illuminates a path at night, giving clarity for which way to walk in, so does God’s word illuminate the direction in which we should head in all of life. In John 8:12, Christ (the incarnate Word) revealed himself to us as a light when he said, I am the Light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light if life.

Here, Christ said in the same way that God’s word illuminates out life and gives clarity in which way we should walk, so does he, as the Eternal Light, illuminate our lives. Which way should we walk? We should walk in obedience to his commands. We should walk in the love which he has displayed for us so that our thoughts and actions are charitable toward God and our neighbor. In referring to God as a light in this hymn, Matheson is saying that God himself follows us giving us clarity and direction in all our ways.


I yield my flick’ring torch to Thee


Matheson then uses the second line to confess that his own wisdom is nothing but a flickering torch needing to be yielded to the superior wisdom of the almighty. Matheson has learned what the wise king of Proverbs 16:9 meant when he said, “A man’s heart deviseth his way; but the LORD directeth his steps“. If we rely on our own wisdom for guidance through life we have nothing but a flickering torch casting dimly lit shadows by which to see what lies ahead and which way to turn. Yielding our dim wisdom to God’s eternal wisdom then leads to the last two lines of this stanza,


That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
 May brighter, fairer be.


When trusting and relying upon Christ for direction however, there is no longer a need for a mere flickering because the darkness is lit up as if by the sunshine’s blaze of day. God’s wisdom is vastly superior to our own. He offers us guidance in his holy word and offers to impart his magnificent wisdom to those who ask. In fact, in James 1:5 we are told if we lack wisdom, as God’s children we have access to him and he will give us wisdom liberally without rebuking us for asking. This is yet another way in which Matheson recognized the relentless love of God who not only pledges faithfulness to us (even when we are faithless) because of his everlasting love, but also delights in lavishing heaps of wisdom upon his children when we ask; and this without a single rebuke.


With that in mind, enjoy this beautiful choral arrangement of O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go


8 thoughts on “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go – Stanza 2

  1. Mallorie

    Thank you!!!! I was so blessed by this! Such a beautiful and poetic hymn but the lyrics are too poetic for me to always understand. Can’t wait for the next installment!

  2. Sooo good Aaron! Thank you!

  3. Lenette

    Oh this song just gets more beautiful the more I hear it. What a wonderful way to head to bed tonight.

  4. Jean Putnam

    I have grown up singing this song and have always wondered about the lyrics as well. I always figured there was more to the meaning than I understood. It is unlike the other hymns which are more straight forward in meaning and doctrine. This uses flowery language to express good doctrine. A beautiful song indeed.

  5. Larry

    Good hymn. Good explanation.

  6. Kenneth

    Am I the only one who never heard this hymn before? I like it.

  7. Andrew

    We have been singing this at our church since I read your first post. I introduced it to them that same week and it was very well received.

  8. Tama

    Very lovely. I love the tune and the words make it that much better.

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