Before we get to this hymn, I am going to ask you to use your imagination a little. Picture yourself in London, England in the late 1800′s. You are a teenager struggling with your faith. It is a cold, rainy night. You are lonely, walking home after work, asking God to have mercy on you. You are walking along the Thames River and come to the Hungerford Bridge to cross. You pause for a moment on the bridge, and look over the side into the dark waters of the Thames River, and hear a voice inside your head say “Make an end to all this misery!!” Refusing to give into these dark voices, you ask yourself “Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ?” and you answer and proclaim “I do believe with my whole heart.”
This is the true story behind this great hymn written by Samuel Trevor Francis in 1875. Mr. Francis was a London merchant who was passionate about hymn writing and open-air preaching. After this experience when he was a teenager, Mr. Francis spent the next 73 years of his life in ministry. As you read about the love of Jesus in this song, I hope you key in on the phrases regarding the water/river/ocean, and think back to what Mr. Francis probably was experiencing that cold, rainy, lonely night in London. For those of you that are familiar with this tune, I hope the background story behind gives you more insight into the author’s mindset, and that it also paints a beautiful picture for you of God’s great love for His children.
O THE DEEP, DEEP LOVE OF JESUS
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o’er His loved ones, died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o’er them from the throne!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best!
’Tis an ocean full of blessing, ’tis a haven giving rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, ’tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee!
Couple of comments on the lyrics:
“Underneath me, all around me” – Do you remember in grammar school when you had to learn about prepositions? You know “about, above, across, before, behind, below, etc.” I get the picture here that the author is trying to communicate, with a couple of different prepositions, how great the love of Jesus truly is. It is around us. It is in us. It is before us. It is behind us. It is under us. It is through us. It is with us. It is near us. Paul wrote in Ephesians that there is “one God, one Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all.” This great God who is over all, and in all, and through all, also has His love over us, in us, and through us.
“Ever loveth, changeth never” – I like the marriage of these phrases here in Verse two. The author combines something that God always does (loves) with something that He never does (change). Lamentations 3:22-23 reminds us “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” This great passage of Scripture was also the inspiration for another great line from a truly “great” hymn – “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” That author wrote “Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not.” Once again we see this theme of God’s unchanging love for His children. A love that is deep, vast, unmeasured, boundless and free!
As Christians, we know that our greatest problem—separation from God—has been solved. Jesus Christ, the only Savior, has taken our sin upon himself, enduring God’s wrath in our place and rising from the dead to assure us of our forgiveness.
But all our problems don’t end when we turn to Christ. We still get sick. Marriages end. Children die. Our plans, great or small, are disrupted. We grow weary in the battle.
Scripture assures us that God is sovereignly using our difficulties as tools to make us more like his Son. “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Ro 5:3–5) While we know these things are true, in the midst of our hardships we can lose perspective. Problems can loom large, and our hopes can grow dim.
Come Weary Saints is an invitation to redirect your focus to the God whose love has been forever demonstrated at the cross of Calvary. As you listen to this hymn, may your faith and joy in the Savior be strengthened for the challenges you face, now or in the future.
I have attached a link to a contemporary version of this hymn by the group Selah. It has a powerful video as well. I hope you enjoy it.