My God I Love Thee (My Eternal King) - St. Francis Xavier's Hymn of Love

This is a hymn about love of God and the Kingship of God.   It is a translation of the Latin "O Deus, ego amo te", which is attributed to St Francis Xavier - and was itself perhaps based on a Spanish sonnet "No me mueve, mi Dios, para quererte".

This English translation was made by English Anglican clergyman and later Roman Catholic convert-priest Edward Caswall (1814-1878) and first published in Lyra Catholica in 1849.

Although attributed to the Roman Catholic Francis Xavier and included in books like the 1915 The Armagh Hymnal, 1915, the hymn has appeared in hymn books of the Anglican, Episcopal, Methodist and Moravian churches - and likely others.

With meter, tunes it has been set to include:
  • ST FRANCIS XAVIER, by John Stainer (1840-1901)
  • SOLOMON (Handel) by George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
  • WINCHESTER OLD, attributed to George Kirbye (c. 1565-1634)
  • ST COLUMBA - traditional Irish, composer unknown
  • KINGSFOLD - traditional English

The text is frequently cited as an example of the importance of punctuation and choral enunciation: After the word "Thee" in the first line there is a semi-colon - and if this is left out, the meaning of the text is directly opposite what was intended.


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Cathedral choir and congregation with organ. TUNE: TBA

Soloist with organ backing, recorded live during a church service. Tune: WINCHESTER OLD

Instrumental - piano. Tune ST FULBERT

Instrumental - keyboard, followed by MIDI with backing. Tune: SOLOMON (Handel)

Instrumental - KINGSFOLD


My God, I love Thee; not because
I hope for Heav’n thereby,
Nor yet because who love Thee not
May eternally die.

Thou, O my Jesus, Thou didst me
Upon the cross embrace;
For me didst bear the nails and spear,
And manifold disgrace.

And griefs and torments numberless,
And sweat of agony;
E’en death itself; and all for man
Who was Thine enemy.

Then why, O blessed Jesus Christ
Should I not love Thee well?
Not for the hope of winning Heaven,
Nor of escaping hell.

Not with the hope of gaining aught,
Nor seeking a reward,
But as Thyself hast loved me,
O everlasting Lord!

E’en so I love Thee, and will love,
And in Thy praise will sing,
Solely because Thou art my God,
And my eternal King.

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  1. Should also be seen as an heartfelt prayer prayed by everyone.

  2. This prayer has always been on my mind