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compiled by Michael Jeshurun

At age 20 George Matheson (1842-1906) was engaged to be married but began going blind. When he broke the news to his fiancee, she decided she could not go through life with a blind husband. She left him. Before losing his sight he had written two books of theology and some feel that if he had retained his sight he could have been the greatest leader of the church of Scotland in his day.

A special providence was that George’s sister offered to care for him. With her help, George left the world of academia for pastoral ministry and wound up preaching to 1500 each week–blind.
The day came, however, in 1882, when his sister fell in love and prepared for marriage herself. The evening before the wedding, George’s whole family had left to get ready for the next day’s celebration. He was alone and facing the prospect of living the rest of his life without the one person who had come through for him. On top of this, he was doubtless reflecting on his own aborted wedding day twenty years earlier. It is not hard to imagine the fresh waves of grief washing over him that night.

In the darkness of that moment George Matheson wrote this hymn. He remarked afterward that it took him five minutes and that it was the only hymn he ever wrote that required no editing.

O love that WILL NOT LET ME GO!

I have learnt that nothing on this side of heaven stays with us for long! Like Peter, many who today tell us that they are ready to go both to PRISON and to DEATH for us, may tomorrow DENY THEY EVEN KNEW US!

There is ONLY ONE Friend who sticketh closer than a brother (Prov 18:24), and who will remain with us until the END, and His name is the Lord Jesus!

When everything else is passed away, you’ll still have Jesus! When everything else is gone, there’ll still be Jesus. When all others forsake you, there’ll still be Jesus. When you haven’t got anything left, there’ll still be Jesus. When the World has nothing left, you’ll still have Jesus! When all your hopes are gone & all seems to fail, even when your dreams are shattered & your ships come home with broken sails, you will still have Jesus!—

And Jesus is all you really need! Hallelujah!

Here’s the complete Hymn –

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

Matheson later wrote concerning this hymn in his journal –

“My hymn was composed in the manse of Inellan on the evening of June 6, 1882. I was at that time alone. It was the day of my sister’s marriage, and the rest of my family were staying overnight in Glasgow. Something had happened to me which was known only to myself, and which caused me the most severe mental suffering. The hymn was the fruit of that suffering. It was the quickest bit of work I ever did in my life. I had the impression of having it dictated to me by some inward voice than of working it out myself. I am quite sure that the whole work was completed in five minutes, and equally sure that it never received at my hands any retouching or correction. I have no natural gift of rhythm. All the other verses I have written are manufactured articles; this came like a dayspring from on high. I have never been able to gain once more the same fervor in verse.”

Matheson obviously didn’t intend to tell us what caused his “most severe mental suffering,” but people who know his background strongly suspect that it had to do with a heartbreaking experience several years earlier. His fiancee had broken her engagement to him, telling him that she couldn’t see herself going through life married to a blind man. Matheson never married, and it seems likely that his sister’s wedding brought to memory the woman that he had loved and the wedding that he had never enjoyed.

At any rate, Matheson’s “severe mental suffering” inspired him to write this hymn, “O Love that Wilt Not Let Me Go.” The hymn celebrates the constancy of God’s love––”love that wilt not let me go”––”light that follow’st all my way”––”joy that seekest me through pain.” It concludes by celebrating “Life that shall endless be.”
Albert Peace, organist and editor of a journal called The Scottish Hymnal, wrote the tune, “St. Margaret,” that is associated with the hymn. His experience was amazingly like that of Matheson, in that the music came to him quickly and he was able to write the tune in only five minutes.

When I read the various accounts of Matheson’s writing this hymn, one sentence struck me as especially important. It was this––Matheson said, “The hymn was the fruit of that suffering.” There is an important lesson in that. All of us suffer some sort of heartbreak or disappointment or disability at some point in our lives. What makes all the difference is our response ––whether we let the hardship stop us or inspire us to greater effort.

Matheson suffered two severe blows that could have stopped him––the loss of his eyesight and the loss of his beloved. In both cases, he made the best of a bad situation––and we are all the richer for it. As this hymn reveals, it was his faith in God that kept him going through the adversities that he suffered. He believed that God’s love would not let him go––and that God’s light would follow him all his way––and that God’s joy would seek him through his pain––and that faith made all the difference.



  1. My dear brother Mike: Regarding Matheson’s “O Love that will not let me go,” what a comfort to any Christian sufferer! When you get right down to it, the bottom line has got to be that no matter the trial, for the Christian who has the Lord watching after him, the God of love uses His power to turn even misery and grief into something good–for our good and God’s glory so we will “richer be” and “fuller be.”–Glen Berry

    • Amen dear Brother, it must be so! For if something was not for our eternal good and His greater glory God would not have ordained it!

      Oh to always live in the light of those glorious words –

      “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose!” [Rom 8:28]

  2. Yes, God’s love will never fail us even when all seems lost to us. Greetings Mike from across the pond. Things bad here in the UK. No churches preaching the true gospel that I can find so I continue solo on my lonely pilgrimage with my Lord Jesus as my constant companion in the hope that one day I may come across another lonely sojourner with whom to fellowship with and break bread with. I know there are others up and down the country in the same position, just with I knew them.

    Anyway, thanks for all the great posts of late – they are such a wonderful encouragement to continue on in the faith. May the Lord in His mighty power preserve us all to the end.

    God bless you always brother Mike.

    Love from Steve in Mansfield, Uk

  3. Thank you for your comment dear Brother. Fact is things are bad all over the world! I must say that the Lord’s sheep who love the Truth and have an ear for it are an ‘endangered species’. Very few of them left in the world right now. And this is in line with the words of our Lord who said – “when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” [Luke 18:8] That is a rhetorical question. Except for a few small Churches and brethren who meet up once in a while to fellowship and break bread the whole of the existing visible large denominational Churches in the world will be thoroughly Apostate! I do not say this lightly but am speaking with almost 30 years of experience with the religiously lost!

    Here are some excerpts from A.W. Pink along these lines –

    “I am thoroughly convinced that one of the chief hindrances today to many of the Lord’s people enjoying their inheritance is that they are in their WRONG PLACE, they are where Christ is not: he is on the outside of EVERYTHING CORPORATE.

    To be where he is not is to miss the place of blessing, is to have our peace disturbed, and is to be corrupted by those who are not walking with Him. I am more firmly convinced today than I was 14 months ago that our place is on the ‘outside of the camp’. That is the place of reproach, loneliness, and of testing; but as it is the place where CHRIST is, it is, necessarily, the place of blessing, peace and joy”.

    [A.W. Pink in his letter to the Colemans. Quoted from ‘The Life of Arthur W. Pink’ – Iain H. Murray]


    And what will follow when this Divine command is obeyed? Why, then we shall prove the truth of those words of Christ: “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world HATETH you (John 15:19). WHICH “world” is specifically in view here? Let the previous verse answer: “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.”

    WHAT “world” hated Christ and hounded Him to death? The RELIGIOUS world, those who pretended to be most zealous for God’s glory. So it is now. Let the Christian turn his back upon a Christ—dishonoring Christendom, and his fiercest foes and most relentless and unscrupulous enemies will be those who claim to be Christians themselves!
    “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you… for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad” (Matthew 5:11,12).

    Ah, my brother, it is a healthy sign, a sure mark that you are profiting from the Word, when the religious world hates you. BUT IF, ON THE OTHER HAND, YOU STILL HAVE A “GOOD STANDING” IN THE “CHURCHES” OR “ASSEMBLIES” THERE IS GRAVE REASON TO FEAR THAT YOU LOVE THE PRAISE OF MEN MORE THAN THAT OF GOD! [Profiting from the Word]

    Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, AND TOUCH NOT the unclean thing.” [2Cor6:14,17]

    O my Christian reader, seek grace to obtain the uncompromising spirit of Moses. When urged to worship God in “Egypt” (i. e. the white-washed “churches” OF THE WORLD), say it is impossible, for “what communion hath light with darkness!” when pressed to leave your children in a worldly Sunday School, to be instructed by those who have not the fear of God upon them, refuse, when invited to at least retain your membership in the HOLY SPIRIT-DESERTED “CHURCHES” and contribute of your means to their upkeep, decline to do so.

    That going forth to meet the Lord is to be understood as expressing both external and internal action. Externally, it signifies separation from the world, especially its pleasures, for Christ will not be met with while we waste our time engaging in them. “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers… come out from among them” (2 Corinthians 6:14-17) must be heeded if we would “meet the Bridegroom.” More particularly, their going forth denoted a turning of their backs upon the apostate ECCLESIASTICAL SYSTEM: Christ had informed His disciples that he had abandoned a Judaism which had rejected Him (Matthew 23:37, 38), so if they would meet with Him, they too must “go forth unto Him outside the camp” (Hebrews 13:15). THE SAME IS TRUE NOW. [Practical Christianity]

    [Writing to Lowell Green, September 2, 1934]
    My earnest advice is for you to have little or NOTHING TO DO with the people of the religious world today. They CANNOT help you spiritually, and where they help not they are bound to HINDER! Be much in prayer and on your guard against a holier-than -thou attitude. if we are not very watchful, separation soon leads to self- righteousness. On the other hand, association with empty professors soon corrupts and paralyzes true spirituality.

    Prayer, reading and meditation will do far more for your soul – with God’s blessing on the same – than attending meetings and being active in ‘Christian service’

    Love you Steve. Take care dear Brother and stay in touch.

    Mike ❤

    • Thanks for your reply – very encouraging.

      Yes, I read a lot – I get my fellowship from my books. Great preachers of the past like Spurgeon, Winslow, McDuff, Philpot to name but a few are wonderful comfort and great encouragement. Not forgetting the Word itself of course.

      Yes, will definitely keep in touch, good to commune with one of the family. Stay well brother, keep up the good work.


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