The Rev Philip Cook was our speaker today. The reading was Ephesians 3:14-21 and he spoke on how three well-known hymns came to be written.

‘What a friend we have in Jesus’  – Grace and love in bereavement. Proverbs 18:24(AV) says ‘There’s a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.’ The writer Joseph Scriven had two personal tragedies. When in Northern Ireland, he saw his fiancée drown after being thrown from her horse, and then in Canada his then fiancée died too. The hymn, written to reassure his mother that he was OK, wasn’t found for 27 years.

‘O love that wilt not let me go’ – Grace is love in heartbreak. George Matheson’s fiancée broke off their engagement because he was blind. In his mental distress he wrote this hymn with God’s guidance.

‘Now thank we all our God’ – Grace and love of God in terror. In the 30 Years’ War in the 17th century, in Eilenberg, Pastor Rinkhart buried forty to fifty people daily. He wrote this hymn in the horror and destruction of war.

‘When we pass through testing’ – Grace and love of God in pain. Philip himself wrote this hymn in 2001 when in severe back and leg pain. He based it on Job 23:10, 13:15 and 19:25. We sang it with him.

These hymns will mean so much more now!

Thank you Sue for this lovely precis.