George Matheson was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1842. He was exceptionally bright and graduated with honors from the University of Glasgow when he was 19 years old. It wasn’t long after the conclusion of his studies that Matheson went through tremendous grief. To his dismay, he found that he was quickly going blind and as he broke the news to his beloved fiancée, she decided that she could not endure being the wife of a blind man and left him shortly before they were to be married. God blessed Matheson with a devoted sister, who cared for him daily for many years, but as time went on and she was to be married, he again suffered under the weight of facing his blindness alone. It was the night of her wedding, as he went through intense mental suffering, that the words of “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go” came to him as if dictated.
To be honest with you, we’ve sung this hymn numerous times and it never occured to me that these words were born out of such deep loss, grief and affliction. But knowing Matheson’s sorrows have made the lyrics all the more dear to me. What ultimately brought him peace and joy was knowing that though everyone else may turn away and leave him, Yahweh, the sovereign, promise-keeping, Lord of love, would never let him go. I love what Kevin Twit has said concerning this song… “When trials come, we don’t just try and keep our head up. We grab hold of the covenant promises. The proof that God loves us is that all the promises of the Bible are Yea (sure) and Amen (firm) in Christ (2 Cor 1:20)… Through faith, you can know that God’s wrath has been fully poured out on His Son. And His love will never let us go, because we have a love that let His Son go in our stead.”
Chances are you know this hymn already. If it’s helpful to you, please use our YouTube Channel to hear it so you can sing it with confidence. We’ve added a few versions of the hymn to the top of our playlist for you to choose from. You’ll also find free printable lyrics, music, and a copywork page to help you along.
We encourage you all to gather up your families, for just a few minutes each day, to sing, discuss and memorize this hymn, whether it is during family worship, or before bedtime – whatever works best for your family. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! Let us know if you’ll be joining in!
Click HERE for your free printable lyrics!