"WONDERFUL STORY OF LOVE"
"Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us…" (1 Jn. 3.16)
INTRO.: A song which emphasizes the love of God for us as manifested in the coming and sacrifice of Jesus Christ is "Wonderful Story of Love" (#180 in Hymns for Worship Revised and #276 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written and the tune was composed both by John Merritte Driver, who was born in 1858 (one source mistakenly says 1885). The song may have been first published in his own 1885 collection Songs of the Soul, although some sources say it first appeared in 1892. I do not have any other information on its background and almost no information on the author/composer, except that after he attended Illinois Agricultural College and Boston University, he became a Methodist Episcopal preacher and served at the People’s Church in Chicago, IL, from 1902 to 1907. Many older hymnbooks identify him as "Rev." J. M. Driver. He died on June 6, 1918. The song’s popularity among us can be seen from the fact that it found its way into almost all of our commonly used hymnbooks (except the "Great Songs of the Church" series).
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ , the the song appeared in the 1927 Cross and Resurrection in Song (Revised and Enlarged) edited by Flavil J. Hall and Samuel H. Hall. (I do not know if it was in the original 1920 edition); the 1927 Sweeter Than All Songs edited by C. M. Pullias; 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 1938 Spiritual Melodies, the 1943 Standard Gospel Songs, and the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 all edited by Tillit S. Teddlie; the 1938/1944 New Wonderful Songs edited by Thomas S. Cobb; the 1940 Complete Christian Hymnal and the 1959 Hymnal both edited by Marion Davis; the 1940 Praise and Revival Songs, the 1944 Gospel Songs and Hymns, and the 1952 Hymns of Praise and Devotion all edited by Will W. Slater; the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons; the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater; and the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch. 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; 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 identifies several ways in which the wonderful love of God is shown.
I. According to stanza 1, the love of God is shown by the coming of Christ
"Wonderful story of love, Tell it to me again;
Wonderful story of love, Wake the immortal strain.
Angels with rapture announce it, Shepherds with wonder receive it;
Sinner, O won’t you believe it? Wonderful story of love."
A. Angels with rapture announced His coming: Lk. 2.8-14
B. Shepherds with wonder received the news of His coming: Lk. 2.15-20
C. And sinners must believe the message about the Christ who came: Jn. 8.24
II. According to stanza 2, the love of God is shown by the call of Christ
"Wonderful story of love, Though you are far away,
Wonderful story of love, Still He doth call today,
Calling from Calvary’s mountain, Down from the crystal bright fountain,
E’en from the dawn of creation, Wonderful story of love."
A. He calls from Calvary’s bright mountain, where He died for our sins: Lk. 23.33-46
B. This call is for us to come to the crystal bright fountain where we can receive cleansing: Zech. 13.1; cf. Rev. 21.6-7
C. And the call echoes back to the dawn of creation because God formulated this plan for our salvation even before the foundation of the world: Eph. 1.4-7, 2 Tim. 1.9-10
III. According to stanza 3, the love of God is shown by the rest that Christ offers us
"Wonderful story of love, Jesus provides a rest,
Wonderful story of love, For all the pure and blest,
Rest in those mansions above us, With those who’ve gone on before us,
Singing the rapturous chorus, "Wonderful story of love.’"
A. While we can have rest from the burden of sin now, we can also have the hope of rest in the mansions above us: Matt. 11.28-30, Jn. 14.1-3
B. When we reach those mansions above us, we shall be reunited with those who have gone on before us: 1 Thess. 4.13-18
C. And with the redeemed of all ages we can join in singing the rapturous chorus: Rev. 5.8-14
CONCL.: The chorus continues to remind us of the
Wonderful, Wonderful story of love."
This is an excellent song by which we can praise both the Father and the Son for their part in our salvation. It can also be used effectively as an invitation song to call those who are out of Christ to receive salvation. As Christians, we should always be giving thanks to God for, and encouraging the lost to respond to, the "Wonderful Story of Love."