Story Behind “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go”

George Matheson went completely blind when he was eighteen years old. Still, he remained a star student. He went on to become a great preacher in the Church of Scotland, assisted by his sister, who learned Greek and Hebrew to help with his research.

This hymn was written on the evening of June 6, 1882. “I was at that time alone,” Mattheson later wrote. “It was the day of my sister’s marriage… Something happened to me, which was known only to myself, and which caused me the most severe mental suffering. The hymn was the fruit of that suffering.”

What was it that happened to him? Some think he was remembering the time he himself was engaged to be married and his fiancee broke the engagement when she learned that he would soon be completely blind. Or perhaps it was difficult for him to have his devoted sister getting married. In any case, he was led to ponder God’s eternal love, which would turn his “flick’ring torch” into blazing daylight.

George Mattheson (1842-1906)

From “The One Year Book Of Hymns: 365 Devotional Readings Based On Great Hymns Of The Faith”, by Robert K Brown and Mark R. Norton

“O Love That Will Not Let Me Go” sung by Danny Gaither:


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