"WONDERFUL LOVE OF JESUS"
"Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us…" (Eph. 5.2)
INTRO.: A song which reminds us of the great love of Christ which led Him to give Himself for us is "Wonderful Love Of Jesus" (#155 in Hymns for Worship Revised and #271 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written, using the pseudonym "E. D. Mund," and the tune was composed both by Edmund Simon Lorenz (1854-1942). A minister with the United Brethren Church, he edited the first United Brethren hymnal with tunes, served as minister with the High St. United Brethren Church in Dayton, OH, from 1884 to 1886, was president of Lebanon Valley College in Annville, PA, from 1886 to 1888, and because of health problems returned to Dayton and in 1890 founded the music publishing firm of Lorenz and Company, which still exists today.
Several of the melodies that he composed for various hymn-texts by others have found their way into books used among churches of Christ, including "Give Me the Bible," and "Come, let us all unite to sing, God Is Love." In his songs where he provided both words and music, such as "Thou Thinkest, Lord, of Me" and "Tell It To Jesus Alone," he often used an alteration of his first name to create an alias. "Wonderful Love of Jesus" was first published in his 1883 Happy Voices for the Sunday School. It entered hymnbooks published by brethren in the 1889 Christian Hymns of the Gospel Advocate Co. in Nashville, TN.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1), the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2, and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 all edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; and the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater. Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise all edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1978/1983 (Church) Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship, Sacred Selections, and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.
The song speaks of several characteristics of Christ’s wonderful love.
I. According to stanza 1, the love of Jesus is beyond our ability to praise adequately
"In vain in high and holy lays My soul her grateful voice would raise,
For who can sing the worthy praise Of the wonderful love of Jesus."
A. A "lay" is defined as "a song or melody," coming from the Old French word "lai" meaning "a short poem, especially a narrative poem for singing." Certainly, we should sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to the Lord: Col. 3.16
B. One purpose of singing such songs is that the soul its grateful voice can raise to magnify the Lord: Lk. 2.46-47
C. But the point of the stanza is that in a sense, our attempts to do so with completeness will be in vain, "For who can sing the worthy praise Of the wonderful love of Jesus?" Yet, we must still try and do our best: Heb. 13.15
II. According to stanza 2, the love of Jesus is ever present to help and encourage us
"A joy by day, a peace by night, In storms a calm, in darkness light,
In pain a balm, in weakness might Is the wonderful love of Jesus."
A. Both day and night it provides joy and peace: Ps. 74.16, Phil. 4.4 & 7
B. In the dark storms of life it provides a light that will calm the tempests, just as Jesus stilled the storms on the Sea of Galilee: Lk.
C. And it provides a balm for our pains that gives us strength in our weaknesses: Jer. 8.22, Eph. 6.10
III. According to stanza 3, the love of Jesus enables us to have everything that we need spiritually
"My hope for pardon when I call, My trust for lifting when I fall,
In life, in death, my all in all Is the wonderful love of Jesus."
A. It is our hope for pardon when we call. Because all have sinned, our greatest need is pardon, and Jesus offers us remission of sins through His blood: Matt. 26.28; but we must call by obeying Him: Acts 2.38, 22.16
B. It is our trust for lifting when we fall. Even as Christians we make mistakes and sometimes fall: 1 Cor. 10.12-13; but the same blood of Jesus is available to forgive us and lift us back to a right relationship with the Lord as we confess our sins to Him: 1 Jn. 1.7-9
C. Indeed, in life and in death it is our all in all: Phil. 1.20, Col. 3.11
CONCL.: The chorus continues to extol the
"Wonderful love! wonderful love! Wonderful love of Jesus!
Wonderful love! wonderful love! Wonderful love of Jesus."
Again, the imperfect language of mankind cannot fully express the perfection of the love that Christ had and has for us. However, as we sing songs such as this, we still seek to give our thanks to God for His unspeakable gift and praise Him for the "Wonderful Love of Jesus."