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.