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!
Words by S. Trevor Francis, 1875
Music by Thomas J. Williams, 1890
“How wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”
For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, Lord, preserve both people and animals. How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
Psalm 36:5 – 7
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Romans 5:8 – 11
Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
Romans 8:33 – 34
The gentle rolling waves of the ocean as they come ashore have a peaceful and mesmerizing effect on us. Now I am not talking about the powerful crashing waves that come with the storm. I am talking about the gentle waves as they wash up on the beach. The soft entrancing sound you can hear from the distance. It can relax us with its almost hypnotic steady rhythm. It is the sound of the rolling waves that is so much the culture for those who live near the sea. They almost forget it is there until they are taken away from it. So it is in the country of Wales located on the east coast of Great Britain. An ancient sailing nation in which the sounds of the ocean are embedded in the culture. It is these rolling waves that we hear in the traditional Welsh melody adapted by Thomas J. Williams for the hymn, “O The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus.” When he paired the melody with the words of Trevor Francis, written 15 years earlier, we find one of the most beautiful and haunting hymns ever written. A hymn that speaks to our very souls.
The first verse, using this image of the sea, builds an incredible picture of the fullness of God’s love. It begins, “O the deep, deep love of Jesus vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!” It is an awesome thought. God’s love is something so incredible that we can not begin to wrap our minds around it. Paul presents us with a rhetorical question of this profound truth in Ephesians 3:17 – 18 when he ask , “How wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”
As the hymn continues the melody rolls on as with the ebb and flow of the tide and we find the description of God’s love further developed. Francis presents us with a picture of God’s love completely enveloping us as he writes, “rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me! Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love.” It is this love of God that guides us toward our final destination like the current guides across the waters. His love is always, “Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!” As Zephaniah 3:17 tells us, “With his love, he will calm all your fears.”
The hymn transitions from the imagery of the ocean with the call to “spread His praise from shore to shore.” He first presents that God’s love is unchanging as we sing, “How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!” This reflect the profound truth of Psalm 36:5 which says, “Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.”
It continues on with the line, “How He watches o’er His loved ones, died to call them all His own.” This is the magnitude of God’s love. Paul tells us this in Romans 5:10 when he says “we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son.”
It is because of this great love that Jesus now intercedes, on behalf of all those who believe, to the Father in heaven. So the verse concludes, “How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o’er them from the throne!” These words echo those of Romans 8:33 where Paul tells us, ” Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.”
God’s love is truly unfathomable. It is a love He extends to us and that completely envelops us. It is as Francis writes, “an ocean full of blessing ’tis a haven giving rest!” It is when we understand this that the question becomes more that a simple reflection, but a profound declaration. It is then that we can truly begin to sing, “Oh the Deep, Deep love of Jesus.”
Read more about “O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus.”
Bonus video by John Brown University Cathedral Choir in 1997. Beautiful and Haunting.