O Love

What is it?

Described by others as "absolutely beautiful" and "truly inspired", O Love is probably the most lovely piece of music that I will ever compose. It is a setting of George Matheson’s well-known hymn O Love that wilt not let me go. The following arrangements of it are available here:
• A simplified church songbook arrangement, for use in any church that has people and a piano
• 4-part mixed choir (SATB) and piano
• 4-part male choir (TTBB) and piano
• Solo voice and small chamber orchestra (soprano, in G major; mezzo-soprano or baritone, in F major)
• 4-part mixed choir (SATB), piano, Uilleann pipes, solo cello and orchestra (the Festival Edition)

Lyrics

1. 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.

2. O Light that foll’west all my way,
I yield my flick’ring torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

3. 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.

4. 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.

Listen

The awesomely lovely Festival Edition

played as an instrumental

The Male Voice Choir version

sung by the men of the Eliata Choir, Surabaya, Indonesia

Solo mezzo-soprano

and chamber orchestra (instrumental) (in F major)

Solo soprano

and chamber orchestra (instrumental) (in G major)

Solo baritone

and chamber orchestra (instrumental) (in F major)

Learn

To judge from other people's reactions to it, O Love packs more emotional punch than anything else I’ve ever written. It has a hauntingly Celtic intensity and has become by quite a long way my best-selling composition to date, all the way from the western United States of America to Indonesia in south-east Asia.

At the beginning of February 2014 I was asked to play piano for the funeral of a 29-year-old lady named Amy Ratnett. On arriving at the church I was handed an order of service sheet. Amy's face smiled up at me in a photograph on the front cover, beneath the words “If love were enough to keep you here, here you would remain”. During the funeral the words of Matheson’s hymn O Love that wilt not let me go were read. Within five minutes of driving away from the church after the funeral I knew that I had to compose new music for these words. I composed the melody and the basic harmonies in about thirty minutes. I sent the music to a friend whose response bowled me over. “This is absolutely beautiful” she wrote, “It is truly inspired.”

Amy Ratnett

Amy Ratnett
15 August 1984 - 18 January 2014

Girl in country

O Love was first sung in Saint Thomas’ Church, Trowbridge, England on 9th March 2014. I played it before the service. People entering the church stopped in their tracks to listen. The Vicar made reference to it in his sermon, saying this

All the people in the church then sang the piece, led by my friend Paul Edwards. As we sang I saw one man with tears streaming down his face. Afterwards he shook my hand, still in tears, and said simply, "Thank you".

I feel humbled by this music. I know that while I might have been the hand that put the notes on paper, it was, as my friend Jane Butler said, truly inspired. I never knew Amy Ratnett but in my mind this will forever be her song.