Zion Episcopal Church 301 East Congress St. Charles Town, WV. 25414

Director of Music Ministries

Love Divine, All Loves Excelling and St.
Valentine – -David M. Miller

Flowers, candy, singing valentines (http://www.barbershop.org/), red hearts and romance. That’s what Valentine’s day is all about, right? The origin of this holiday for the expression of love really isn’t romantic at all. –The real story of the man behind the holiday is St. Valentine.

He was a Roman Priest at a time when there was an emperor called Claudias who persecuted the church at that particular time. There was also an edict that prohibited the marriage of young people. This was based on the hypothesis that unmarried soldiers fought better than married soldiers and because married soldiers might be afraid of what might happen to them or their wives and families if they died.

The society of the time of Valentin was a very permissive society. Polygamy would have been much more popular than just one woman and one man living together. For those attracted to Christian faith, marriage was very sacred between one man and one woman for their life and that it was to be encouraged. And so it immediately presented the problem to the Christian church and Rome. The idea of encouraging them to marry within the Christian church was what Valentine was about. And he secretly married them because of the edict.

Valentine was eventually caught, imprisoned and tortured for performing marriage ceremonies against command of Emperor Claudius the second. One of the men who was to judge him in line with the Roman law at the time was a man called Asterius, whose daughter was blind. He was supposed to have prayed with and healed the young girl with such astonishing effect that Asterius himself became Christian as a result. In the year 269 AD, Valentine was sentenced to a three-part execution of a beating, stoning, and finally decapitation all because of his stand for Christian marriage. The story goes that the last words he wrote were in a note to Asterius’ daughter. He inspired today’s romantic missives by signing it, “from your Valentine.”

Hymn 657, “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” written in 1747 by Charles Wesley is popular at weddings.

“Love divine, all loves excelling, joy of heaven to earth come down;

Fix in us thy humble dwelling; all thy faithful mercies crown!

Jesus, thou art all compassion, pure, unbounded love thou art;

visit us with thy salvation; enter every trembling heart.”

The hymn is written around a progression of thoughts: (1) our prayers for the Holy Spirit, (2) praying for the return of our Lord through the second coming, and (3) prayers for the finalization of his new creation. There is no better way of describing the culmination of adhering to the biblical teachings of Christ, than in stanza four of this hymn. Wesley’s phrase, “changed from glory into glory” is almost a direct quotation from 2 Corinthians 3:18. Wesley describes that day in heaven when “we take our place, till we cast our crowns before thee, lost in wonder, love, and praise.”

Submitted by David Miller

Zion Church
About the Author
Whether you are new to the Christian faith, seeking a church home, or just visiting Charles Town, we hope you all gather with us this Sunday and join in the celebration.