History of Hymns: "When Love Is Found" celebrates marriage through poetic song
“When Love Is Found”
UM Hymnal, No. 243
When love is found and hope comes home,
sing and be glad that two are one.
When love explodes and fills the sky,
praise God and share our Maker’s joy.*
Hymn writers explore a wide range of topics. Brian Wren takes on the topic of the Christian wedding, one that is fraught with several difficult issues.
First, though there are many traditional wedding songs, placing the act of marriage within the Christian context requires careful theological reflection. After all, persons marry regardless of religious orientation. A justice of the peace is all that is legally required to perform the wedding ceremony. What is a Christian marriage? What is a Christian wedding ceremony?
Then there is the issue of sentimentality in the wedding ceremony. Weddings are very emotional rites of passage. What is left of substance beyond the feelings associated with weddings? A successful marriage must be based on more than emotion.
Finally, the role of congregational singing itself must be considered. A wedding ceremony that takes place in a church is a Christian worship service. Congregational singing is a part of worship and therefore appropriate for the wedding ceremony.
“When Love Is Found” was first included in the author’s collection Mainly Hymns (1980) and later in Faith Looking Forward: The Hymns & Songs of Brian Wren with Many Tunes by Peter Cutts (1983). The author notes that this hymn “asks that love may reach out beyond the nuclear family, rather than the more cozy and familiar theme of inviting others into ‘home’s warmth and light.’”
Stanza one explores the joy of love which finds its source in “our Maker’s joy.” Stanza two suggests that a loving relationship is based on “trust and care” and that the couple look beyond the warmth of the home to “serve and strive for truth and light.”
Stanza three acknowledges that “love [will be] tried” but that “love grows wise” when lovers listen and remain open to each other. Stanza four states that a relationship will be “torn and trust betrayed.” In one of the most beautiful lines, the poet suggests that if “lovers keep no score of wrong,” they will “hear through pain love’s Easter joy.”
The final stanza “Praise[s] God for love [and] . . . life” through all the seasons of life. In a stunning closing couplet, the poet quotes the opening line of the initial dialogue of the Great Thanksgiving, “Lift up your hearts.” The sacrament of Holy Communion, a sign of God’s love, will nourish all love “through life and death in broken bread.”
UM Hymnal editor, the Rev. Carlton R. Young, states, “This is one of Wren’s most consistent, thoughtful, and useful texts from his early period, ca. 1968-78, attested by its rare unaltered state.”
Born and raised in Romford, Essex, England, Brian Wren (b. 1936) earned both his B.A. and Ph.D. from Oxford University. Ordained in Britain’s United Reformed Church, he has served the church universal in many capacities including a parish minister, hymn writer and lecturer.
Dr. Wren, now a citizen of the United States, is Professor of Worship emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga. He has published eight collections of his hymn texts and two additional collections with his wife Susan Heafield, a United Methodist minister. His hymns appear in virtually every English language hymnal published since 1980.