Samuel Crosman was Dean of Bristol during the eighteenth century. His claim to fame was writing the meditation “My Song is Love unknown”. I think it is an amazing piece of writing considering it was written by an establishment figure in a society where the church was viewed as a place of security and privilege and in a city built upon the slave trade. “In life no house or home”…. “in death no friendly tomb…”
This is Jesus … vulnerable and dependent even in death. “Love unknown” I think means “unimaginable” though some think it refers to a Love that is ignored. However, is there a more purely and hauntingly beautiful line than “Love to the loveless shown”? And note how often words like “Love” and “Friend” occur.
The tune is by the English composer John Ireland, who is said to have scribbled it down in 15 minutes! One of the most productive 15 minutes in the history of hymn tune writing. This version is sung by the singers from St Martin in the Fields, a church that has had an effective ministry amongst the homeless and marginalised for nearly 100 years: seeking to love the loveless and be a friend to the friendless in the name of the One who is Love and who came to serve.
Today at this time we remember those who have no home to be isolated in and those made even more vulnerable and alone by current events.