Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Charles Wesley: Preacher, Poet, Theologian


Charles Wesley was born December 18, 1707 to Samuel and Susanna Annesley Wesley. He was one of nineteen children born to the union, and one of the ten who lived to adulthood. Susanna was serious about the education of her children, and she was serious about her faith. All of the children, girls and boys, were trained in the classics and in Latin and Greek. She has been called the Mother of Methodism, because two of her sons, Charles and John, were widely known as the founders of Methodism.

Charles Wesley was a prolific writer and composer of lyrics, for he is known to have written thousands of songs and hymns of the Christian faith. Most readers of this column can no doubt name several Wesley hymns, can indeed sing them. Wesley is famously known for accuracy and care in theological teaching within his hymns. Some might have a favorite among them. 

Because of the season, today’s featured Charles Wesley hymn is “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” Were it the Easter Season, we might feature “Christ the Lord is Risen Today," which is certainly a favorite of mine, along with “O, For a Thousand Tongues to Sing.”

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

1. Hark! The Herald Angels sing,
"Glory to the new-born King;

Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!"
Joyful, all ye nations, rise.
Join the triumph of the skies.
With th' Angelic Hosts proclaim,
"Christ is born in Bethlehem!"
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new-born King."

2. Christ, by highest heaven adored,
Christ, the everlasting lord
Late in time behold Him come,
Off-spring of a Virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,
Hail, the incarnate deity
Pleased as Man with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the New-born king!"

3. Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace,

Hail, the Sun of Righteousness

Light and life to all He brings,
Risen with healing in His Wings.
Now He lays His Glory by,
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the New-born king!"

4. Come, Desire of nations come,

Fix in us Thy humble home;

Oh, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart!
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new-born king;
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!"
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the New-born king!"

5. Adam's likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp Thine image in its place:
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.
Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the Life, the inner man:
O, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the New-born king!"

Charles Wesley 1707 - 1788  RIP

7 comments:

Shelly said...

I have long been in awe of the Wesleys, and the way they allowed the Lord to use them. A fine piece of music today for us-

Vee said...

Wesley's hymns are beautiful and meaningful. I sang them over and over as a child and young adult and I still wake sometimes in the night with a hymn running through my mind. Often I find myself singing them aloud as I'm working around the house.

Now we sing things like: "I'm desperate for You…" with drums and guitars. Yikes! (I probably shouldn't go there after you shared such a great post.)

Grace said...

It's kinda funny - I was going to write a post today about Christmas music - I worked at a Methodist church - lovely people...

vanilla said...

Shelly, vessels of honor in the hands of the Potter.

Vee, I don't mind that you veered of into that particular territory, for I suspect we are of one mind on the subject.

Grace, I have many lovely friends who are Methodists. From a theological point of view, I would count myself a Wesleyan as well, though I don't maintain a membership. Anyway, hope you enjoy at least a bit of pleasant Christmas music this season!

vanilla said...

Vee, "veered off." Typos. Pah!

Sharkbytes said...

Oh, How I love songs with words that mean things!

vanilla said...

Shark, I am so in agreement with you. And Wesley's lyrics had serious meaning.