As with all our great hymns, it is woven from strands of the Bible: from Genesis comes the breath of God in creation; the breath of the Holy Spirit in the new birth in Christ is from St John; then bringing the life and love promised by St Paul in Galatians, and leading to purity and obedience, surrender, inspiration, eternal life. A fruitful time could be spent searching all these out.
Many tunes are sung to these words; they have never settled down as do some hymns to a single tune. Here is probably the most common, by the blind musician Charles Lockhart who was organist of the Lock Hospital in London, a charitable institution whose chapel was an important musical centre.
from notes by Alan Luff © 2004