Monday, April 1, 2024

Charles Wesley*

Charles Wesley (1707―1788) along with his brother John were central figures in the Methodist Revival in eighteenth century Britain. Charles was the most significant hymn writer of his day, and is the most prolific hymnist of all time, having written ten times the number of hymns that Isaac Watts did, who comes a distant second.

In 1729, while a student at Oxford, Charles founded the “Holy Club,” which was later joined by John, and by George Whitefield. Beginning in 1738 the Wesley brothers held meetings throughout Britain, which consisted of hymn-singing and preaching.

The following hymn is one of those most identified with Easter Sunday. Most hymnals today only include four to six of Wesley’s eleven verses. In the 19th century an "Alleluia" was added at the end of each line, perhaps to make it fit the tune “Easter Hymn.”

Christ the Lord is Risen Today

“Christ the Lord is risen today”
Sons of men and angels say
Raise your joys and triumphs high
Sing ye heavens, and earth reply

Love’s redeeming work is done
Fought the fight, the battle won
Lo! Our sun’s eclipse is o’er
Lo! He sets in blood no more.

Vain the stone, the watch, the seal
Christ has burst the gates of hell!
Death in vain forbids his rise:
Christ hath opened paradise!

Lives again our glorious King
Where, O death, is now thy sting?
Dying once he all doth save
Where thy victory, O grave?

Soar we now, where Christ has led?
Following our exalted head
Made like him, like him we rise
Ours the cross—the grave—the skies!

What though once we perished all
Partners in our parent’s fall?
Second life we all receive
In our heavenly Adam live.

Risen with him, we upward move
Still we seek the things above
Still pursue, and kiss the Son
Seated on his Father’s throne.

Scarce on earth a thought bestow
Dead to all we leave below
Heaven our aim, and loved abode
Hid our life with Christ in God!

Hid, till Christ our life appear
Glorious in his members here
Joined to him, we then shall shine
All immortal, all divine!

Hail the Lord of earth and heaven!
Praise to thee by both be given
Thee we greet triumphant now
Hail the resurrection thou!

King of glory, soul of bliss
Everlasting life is this:
Thee to know, thy power to prove,
Thus to sing and thus to love!

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Charles Wesley: first post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the author of five poetry collections including Angelicus (2021, Cascade) ― a book of poems written from the point-of-view of angels. His books are available through Wipf & Stock.