We Love the Place, O God

Posted under The Rectory Bulletin | Hymn Stories

William Bullock (1797-1874) was born into a family who were no strangers to the oceans. His father was an officer in the Royal Navy, and his brother rose to become an Admiral. Unsurprisingly William himself also took up the seafaring life and served as a lieutenant on a ship surveying the coast of Newfoundland, right on the eastern tip of Canada.

As he worked amongst the people of that land, he was dismayed by their lack of knowledge of Christianity. Not a man to leave to others what he could do himself, he immediately resigned his commission and took up the Great Commission of Christ: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Bullock was ordained, and began his missionary work with the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel at a place called Trinity Bay. With the help of some of the congregation, he built a small church. In 1827, as he was preparing for the consecration service, he dwelt on Psalm 26:8 “O Lord, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells”. Inspired, he then wrote the hymn “We Love the Place, O God”.

As you read the words, you’ll notice that they - like the psalm - give the reason for the love: this is the place where God is at work. Places in themselves are simply places. What makes some more special is that over the years they have witnessed the work of God.

We love the place, O God,
wherein thine honour dwells;
the joy of thine abode
all earthly joy excels.

We love the house of prayer,
wherein thy servants meet;
and thou, O Lord, art there
thy chosen flock to greet.

We love the sacred font;
for there the holy Dove
to pour is ever wont
his blessing from above.

We love thine altar, Lord;
O what on earth so dear?
for there, in faith adored,
we find thy presence near.

We love the word of life,
the word that tells of peace,
of comfort in the strife,
and joys that never cease.

We love to sing below
for mercies freely given;
but O we long to know
the triumph-song of heaven.

Lord Jesus, give us grace
on earth to love thee more,
in heaven to see thy face,
and with thy saints adore.


“Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. (1 John 3:4) - Perfection is not possible this side of heaven, and we must acknowledge that we mess up from time to time. When it happens, our response should not be to think we are not Christian - or worthy of God’s love - but to pray for forgiveness, and be determined not to fall again.

Acting out the Faith

For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. (1 John 3:11) - In all of this John is reminding us that our heart is most clearly demonstrated in our actions, and not in our words. To love in ‘word or talk” is not enough. To love in “deed and in truth” is to truly love.

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