Hymn for Lent (Day 26): There’s a wideness in God’s mercy

This will be our closing hymn tomorrow at Christ Church. Alas, we’re stuck singing it to Beecher, the very definition of a lamentable tune. The Hymnal 1982 also offers a wonderful tune by Calvin Hampton, but it’s less popular. Brits usually sing the text with a lovely tune by Maurice Bevan, found in the video, below. Note the extra verses here; British folk are used the singing the one which begins with “But we make [God’s] love too narrow…” It’s quite good.

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
Like the wideness of the sea;
There’s a kindness in His justice,
Which is more than liberty.

There is no place where earth’s sorrows
Are more felt than up in Heaven;
There is no place where earth’s failings
Have such kindly judgment given.

There is welcome for the sinner,
And more graces for the good;
There is mercy with the Savior;
There is healing in His blood.

There is grace enough for thousands
Of new worlds as great as this;
There is room for fresh creations
In that upper home of bliss.

For the love of God is broader
Than the measure of our mind;
And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.

There is plentiful redemption
In the blood that has been shed;
There is joy for all the members
In the sorrows of the Head.

’Tis not all we owe to Jesus;
It is something more than all;
Greater good because of evil,
Larger mercy through the fall.

If our love were but more simple,
We should take Him at His word;
And our lives would be all sunshine
In the sweetness of our Lord.

Souls of men! why will ye scatter
Like a crowd of frightened sheep?
Foolish hearts! why will ye wander
From a love so true and deep?

It is God: His love looks mighty,
But is mightier than it seems;
’Tis our Father: and His fondness
Goes far out beyond our dreams.

But we make His love too narrow
By false limits of our own;
And we magnify His strictness
With a zeal He will not own.

Was there ever kinder shepherd
Half so gentle, half so sweet,
As the Savior who would have us
Come and gather at His feet?

Words: Frederick W. Faber, Oratory Hymns, 1854.

This video (from an Episcopal Church) offers a fine rendition of the text sung to Corvedale by Maurice Bevan.

UPDATE: I managed to forget the video link to Corvedale, until Laura pointed that out. Fixed.

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3 Responses

  1. Laura says:

    One of my very favorite hymns, and I vastly prefer the new tune. I’m so glad to see all of the verses, and that penultimate verse is wonderful. Thank you.

    How do I get to the video?

  2. Scott Gunn says:

    Laura, oops. It’s fixed.Thanks for pointing that out.

  3. Lee Crawford says:

    I have tried and tried and tried to get if not the congregation the choir to sing Saint Helena. Once you have sung that, it’s impossible to go back to the other tune which is so pedantic.

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