O PERFECT LOVE
Dorothy B. Gurney, 1858–1932
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. (Ephesians 5:31)
A perfect union of selfless and totally committed love, not an indulgent form of physical gratification, is God’s plan for the human race. Kindness, patience, forgiveness, and demonstrated affection for each other are the ingredients of a happy marriage. The desire to put the needs and interests of one’s mate first before your own is the basis of matrimonial harmony. Marriage has been instituted by God to be a picture of the sacrificial and unending love of Christ for His bride, the church, and the bride’s loving and devoted responses to her Lord. Yet today we see an epidemic of broken marriages, lack of genuine faithfulness, self-centered conflicts between husbands and wives—even among professing Christians.
A beautiful portrayal of ideal married love is given in this wedding hymn as it describes the harmony that exists when God is the foundation of the marriage relationship. Dorothy Gurney, an English woman, was asked by her sister, who was soon to be married, if she would try writing some suitable words for a favorite hymn tune that could be used at the wedding. Dorothy went off by herself for only 15 minutes and returned with the text of “O Perfect Love.” Her sister was delighted with it and insisted that it be sung at the wedding.
Mrs. Gurney stated that the writing of the hymn “was no effort whatever after the initial idea had come to me of the two-fold aspect of perfect union—love and life—and I have always felt that God helped me write it.” Although this was the only hymn she wrote, it has been recognized as one of the finest wedding texts in the English language.
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 child-like 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!
For Today: Genesis 2:18–25; Mark 10:7–9; Ephesians 5:21–33; 1 Peter 3:7
Reflect on this statement: “A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” Determine to let your marriage more fully imitate Christ’s love for His bride, the Church.
Osbeck, K. W.
- Also the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be himself alone: I will make him an help meet for him. So the Lord God formed of the earth every beast of the field, and every fowl of the heaven, and brought them unto the man to see how he would call them: for howsoever the man named the living creature, so was the name thereof. The man therefore gave names unto all cattle, and to the fowl of the heavvven, and to every beast of the field: but for Adam found he not an helper meet for him. Therefore the Lord God caused an heavy sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in stead thereof. And the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man, made he a woman, and brought her to the man. Then the man said, This now is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman, because she was taken out of the man. Therefore shall man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and they were not ashamed. Genesis 2:18–25
- For this cause shall man leave his father and mother, and cleave unto his wife. And they twain shall be one flesh: so that they are no more twain, but one flesh. Therefore, what God hath coupled together, let not man separate. Mark 10:7–9
- Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourseles unto your husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the wife’s head, even as Christ is the head of the Church, and the same is the Savior of his body. Therefore as the Church is in subjection to Christ, even so let the wives be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the Church, and gave himself for it, That he might sanctify it, and cleanse it by the washing of water through the word, That he might make it unto himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing: but that it should be holy and without blame. So ought men to love their wives, as their own bodies: he that loveth his wife, loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourished and cherisheth it, even as the Lord doth the Church. For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh. This is a great secret, but I speak concerning Christ, and concerning the Church. Therefore everyone of you, do ye so: let everyone love his wife, even as himself, and let the wife see that she fear her husband. Ephesians 5:21–33
- Likewise ye husbands, dwell with them as men of knowledge, giving honor unto the woman, as unto the weaker vessel, even as they which are heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers be not interrupted. 1 Peter 3:7