Archives for posts with tag: Charles Wesley

It’s been said that music can transport our minds to days gone by. Certainly, the songs we sing at Christmas time prove all of this to be true. When I hear the Christmas carols, my mind is flooded with memories.

To enhance your appreciation of the Christmas carols I want to offer a little background information on a few of the favorites.

  • “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is probably one of our oldest carols. It is a traditional Christmas carol- actually an Advent song- dating back to the 12th century and follows a monastery-like chant. The lyrics were originally written in Latin. The author/composer is unknown. It is believed that the melody is of French origin

All of the attributions to the coming Messiah are from the Old Testament except “Emmanuel,” which is found both in Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23. Matthew quotes Isaiah virtually verbatim—“Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel”—with the exception that Matthew adds the phrase: “which being interpreted is, God with us.”

  • “Joy to the World” is based on a psalm and celebrates Christ’s second coming much more than the first. This favorite Christmas hymn is the result of a collaboration of at least three people and draws its initial inspiration not from the Christmas narrative in Luke 2, but from Psalm 98.

The three collaborators: In 1719 Isaac Watts wrote a paraphrase of Psalm 98 and included it in his hymnal, “Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament.” George Frederic Handel (1685-1759), the popular German-born composer, provided the musical phrases. Lowell Mason (1792-1872), a Boston music educator, assured that this tune and text would appear together in the United States.

  • “Silent Night” is one of two hymns (the other is The Old Rugged Cross) that were played for the first time on the guitar. A Catholic priest, Joseph Mohr, wrote “Stille Nacht” and because the organ at Father Mohr’s church was broken, he asked Franz Gruber to compose a melody and guitar accompaniment for the Christmas Eve mass in 1818 at Oberndorf, a village near Salzburg, Austria.

Over the years, because the original manuscript had been lost, Mohr’s name was forgotten and although Gruber was known to be the composer, the melody was variously attributed to Haydn, Mozart, or Beethoven. However, a manuscript was discovered in 1995 in Mohr’s handwriting and dated by researchers as c. 1820. This is the earliest manuscript that exists and the only one in Mohr’s handwriting.

  • “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”– In 1627, the English Puritan parliament abolished the celebration of Christmas and all other “worldly festivals.” For the remainder of the seventeenth century and well into the eighteenth, hymn carols were hard to come by, but there was an exception.

John and Charles Wesley had aroused the anger of the Anglican Church in England by their Armenian doctrine of “free grace.” However, because of a printer’s mistake, one of Charles’ poems was printed in the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer. The hymn, originally entitled “Hark, How All the Welkin Rings” with 10 verses, was actually Charles’ “Hymn for Christmas Day.” The church fathers weren’t too happy about it.

Although angered by Wesley’s inclusion in the prayer book, the church fathers concluded that at least the song would only be used once a year and would probably fade into oblivion.

  • “O Little Town of Bethlehem”- Phillips Brooks, Pastor of the Church of the Holy Trinity, in Philadelphia, visited the Holy Land on Christmas Eve 1865. In a letter dated Saturday, December 30, 1865, Phillips Brooks shared with his father what happened next: “After an early dinner, we took our horses and rode to Bethlehem. It was only about two hours when we came to the town. It is a good-looking town, better built than any other we have seen in Palestine. The great Church of the Nativity is its most prominent object; it is shared by the Greeks, Latins and Armenians.”

Under the Church of the Nativity there is a grotto and a 14-point silver star on marble stone which tradition says marks the place where Jesus was born. That Christmas Eve of 1865, Phillips Brooks wrote, “I was standing in the old church at Bethlehem, close to the spot where Jesus was born, when the whole church was ringing hour after hour with the splendid hymns of praise to God, how again and again it seemed as if I could hear voices that I knew well, telling each of the ‘Wonderful Night’ of the Saviour’s birth.” Brooks closed the letter by describing the horseback ride to a field outside Bethlehem where tradition says the shepherds first saw the star of Bethlehem.

Three years later, back in America, preparing the Christmas service for the Sunday School, he remembered that Christmas Eve in Bethlehem. From his mind’s eye, he would record this experience of standing in the fields surrounding the holy place and thinking of how it might have been that night when God sent forth His Son, born of a virgin, to a little town– the little town of Bethlehem

  • “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”- Edmund Sears was born on April 6, 1810, in Sandisfield, Massachusetts. He graduated from Union College in Schenectady, New York, received a doctor’s degree from Harvard and pastored three small churches in Wayland, Lancaster and Weston, Massachusetts. He died in 1876 and would have been forgotten by most except for one little detail.

In 1846, he penned a Christmas poem, entitled Peace on Earth, and put it in his desk where it would stay for the next three years. In 1849, he sent Peace on Earth to the publisher of Boston’s Christian Register. A year went by until finally, for Christmas of 1850, the poem was put in print. Richard Willis, a graduate of Yale and music critic for the New York Tribune added music.

There are many more songs of Christmas that bring back memories and inspire us and some very interesting stories about their origins. I hope that the music of Christmas will help to bring the Spirit of the Christ Child into your life and into the world.

Jamie Jenkins

“Without music, life is a journey through a desert.” I don’t know if I fully agree with that statement by Pat Conroy but I do believe music is one of God’s greatest gifts.

I enjoy music. Many different kinds. Secular and sacred. Instrumental and vocal. Although I like music I do not know enough to really appreciate it. My understanding is limited regarding the gifts and efforts of songwriters, composers, arrangers, musicians, and vocalists.

Next to the Bible the hymns of the Church have fed my soul more than anything else.  I cannot imagine a life of faith without sacred music. The solid theology and the strong words of hymn  writers like Charles Wesley, Isaac Watts, John Newton, Fanny Crosby, Philip Bliss, and countless others are invaluable. Hymns like Christ the Lord is Risen Today, Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah, How Great Thou Art, Amazing Grace, Rock of Ages, and Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing have helped to lay sound foundations for Christians of many generations.

Much of more modern Christian music has also inspired me and lifted my spirits. Larry Norman, Andrae Crouch, Third Day, Amy Grant, Chris Tomlin, Michael W. Smith, James Cleveland, Keith Green and countless others have made valuable contributions through contemporary Christian music.

I listen to Christian music on the outward bound leg of my morning walks and Bible readings on my return home. My morning routine helps get me started on the right track with a more spiritual emphasis. It is secular music in the afternoon walk.

God uses music of all kinds to speak to me. To encourage and inspire me. To challenge and guide me.

Beyond my love for sacred music, blues and jazz are my favorite genres. The list of great blues and jazz musicians from the past and the present includes B.B. King, Etta James, Nina Simone, Billie Holliday, Louis Armstrong, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker, Jellyroll Morton, Diana Krall, Bill Withers, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Harry Connick, Jr., Duke Ellington, and Bonnie Raitt.

For a good number of years when I was home on Saturday night I listened to the music of the Ben Tucker Trio on the radio as they performed from Hard Hearted Hannah’s in Savannah. Following them was the Jim Collum Jazz Band and Riverwalk Jazz Live from the Landing in San Antonio.

It has been said that every bad situation is a blues song waiting to be written. B.B. King said, “Blues is a tonic for whatever ails you. I could play the blues and then not be blue anymore.” Wynton Marsalis adds, “Everything comes out in blues music: joy, pain, struggle. Blues is affirmation with absolute elegance.”

Dixieland Jazz is different from the blues. This music is often associated with New Orleans where it originated in the early 20th century and later flourished in Chicago after World War I. When Joe “Fingers” Webster and his River City Jazzmen play the Muskrat Ramble Medley, try as you will but you cannot keep your feet from tapping and a smile breaking out on your face.

Like Dixieland Jazz, Bluegrass music gets your toes tapping and your hands clapping. This form of music is named after the Blue Grass Boys, a band led by Bill Monroe, a Kentucky mandolin player and songwriter, who is considered “the father of bluegrass.” My father thought that Bill Monroe, banjo playing Earl Scruggs and guitarist Lester Flatt were the greatest.

I am convinced that you cannot be unhappy when you are listening to Bluegrass or Dixieland Jazz.

Aaron Copland said, “To stop the flow of music would be like the stopping of time itself, incredible and inconceivable.” Thank God for music that entertains, educates, and inspires.

Jamie Jenkins

Sam and Susan are folks you might never have known if it was not for two of their children. They lived in a small town and although they both were well educated neither of them were in high profile positions of leadership.

Sam’s career path was certainly not one that many would count successful. He spent over 40 years in a rather non-descript place. Many of the folks he worked with and for did not like him. Some of them even burned his house down- not once but twice. One of his associates had him thrown into jail because he could not immediately pay a debt. This was one of two times he spent in jail due to his poor financial status. Lack of money was a perpetual problem.

It could be easily argued that Susan was more gifted than her husband but there was no attempt to upstage or overshadow him. She gave birth to nineteen children but nine of them died as infants. Her primary role was to focus her attention on her children. She was the primary source of her children’s education and ultimately the prominent force in shaping their lives.

Sam was also a poet but never achieved any real fame or success as a writer. One account suggests that Sam “spent his whole life and all of the family’s finances” on one literary work that “was not remembered and had little impact on his family other than as a hardship.” In contrast, Susan’s writings were foundational to her children’s education.

Susan devoted several hours every day to her children’s education. She was a commanding presence and a profound influence in their lives. Sam failed to provide financial security for his family but his life was a demonstration of perseverance- holding on when suffering, tragedy and opposition came.

In different ways Sam and Susan profoundly impacted their children. Their influence can be seen especially in two of their boys, John and Charles, the founders of the Methodist Movement that changed the course of history in 18th century England and is a continuing spiritual force in the world today.

Stained glass windows depicting John and Charles Wesley.

Because of the impact of the Wesley brothers, the world knows Samuel and Susanna Wesley. In his book, Revival: Faith as Wesley Lived It, Adam Hamilton says that the boys learned a lesson from their father that would be essential to their future work by his example that “when suffering, tragedy, and opposition come, don’t turn away; turn to God. And don’t give up.” As for their mother, Hamilton says: “Susanna Wesley changed the world by shaping the heart and faith of her children and by her wise counsel and persistent prayers and encouragement.”

I suspect that Samuel and Susanna had no idea of the impact they were having on their children. There was no way they could have seen the effect of their teaching and example on their lives. They were just doing what good parents are supposed to do- live before their kids a life of faith and integrity and leave the results to God. The role of parents has never been easy but has always been important- and never more so than today.

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have a sibling, co-worker, or friend who gets all the attention and accolades and you feel like you are invisible? If so, you can probably identify with Charles Wesley.

Charles Wesley

Charles and his brother John were key figures in a significant historical and religious movement in 18th century that sought to reform the Church of England. The movement was a part of what some defined as “a dramatic, divinely inspired return to true Christianity (that) balanced the moral budget of the British people.”

The Wesley brothers were leaders of a small group of believers and fellow students at Oxford University in the first quarter of the 1700s. They became known as the Methodists because of their methodical devotion to prayer, frequent attendance at Holy Communion, serious Bible study, and regular visits to the prisons.

John is most often credited with being the “founder” of Methodism primarily because of his organizational ability and his preaching. Charles lived in his brother’s shadow. However I believe the case can be made that Charles’ role was equally important. Nevertheless he is often referred to as the “forgotten Wesley.”

It has been said that Charles Wesley averaged 10 poetic lines a day (2 hymns a week) for 50 years. He wrote more than 6,500 hymns,* 10 times the volume that could be claimed by the only other candidate, Isaac Watts, who many regard as the world’s greatest hymn writer. The compiler of the massive Dictionary of Hymnology, John Julian, concluded that “perhaps, taking quantity and quality into consideration, (Charles Wesley was) the greatest hymn-writer of all ages.”

The Hymn Writers: Charles Wesley

In describing Charles’ work, Julian says, “The saying that a really good hymn is as rare an appearance as that of a comet is falsified by (his) work; for hymns, which are really good in every respect, flowed from his pen in quick succession, and death alone stopped the course of the perennial stream.”

The famous preacher Henry Ward Beecher declared, “I would rather have written that hymn of Wesley’s, ‘Jesus, Lover of My Soul,’ than to have the fame of all the kings that ever sat on the earth.” Not bad commendation for the “forgotten” Wesley. One who lived in his brother’s shadow.

 

Jamie Jenkins

 

*Some of the well-known and favorite hymns of Charles Wesley include:

Hark the Herald Angels Sings

And Can It be That I Should Gain

O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing

Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

Jesus, Lover of My Soul

Christ the Lord is Risen Today

Soldiers of Christ, Arise

Rejoice! The Lord is King!

I woke up and looked at the clock. It is 5:00 and it is still dark. In my head I hear the words of Charles Wesley’s great hymn Christ the Lord is Risen Today.

Charles Wesley.jpg

It is Easter morning.

I remember the words of the Gospel of John: “Early in the morning of the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.”

Sons of men and angels say Alleluia.

She ran to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they’ve put him.”

Raise your joys and triumphs high. Alleluia.

Peter and one other disciple ran to the tomb and when they got there they saw that the grave clothes were still there but there was no body. The tomb was empty.

“They didn’t yet understand the scripture that Jesus must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to the place where they were staying.”

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!

Mary stayed outside the tomb crying. Then Jesus appeared and spoke to her.

Jesus Reveals Himself to Mary Magdalene

“Mary Magdalene left and announced to the disciples, ‘I’ve seen the Lord’.”

      Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Later that same day while the disciples were behind closed doors Jesus came to them. He offered words of peace to their fearful hearts and he empowered them to go into the world to carry on His work of forgiveness and redemption.

      Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

How could I stay in bed.

      Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Foll’wing our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

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

It’s Easter!

He is not here - for He is risen

Jamie Jenkins

I woke up and looked at the clock. It is 5:00 and it is still dark. In my head I hear the words of Charles Wesley’s great hymn Christ the Lord is Risen Today.

It is Easter morning 2016.

easter 4

I remember the words of the Gospel of John: “Early in the morning of the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.”

Sons of men and angels say Alleluia.

She ran to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they’ve put him.”

Raise your joys and triumphs high. Alleluia.Easter 2

Peter and one other disciple ran to the tomb and when they got there they saw that the grave clothes were still there but there was no body. The tomb was empty.

Easter 1

“They didn’t yet understand the scripture that Jesus must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to the place where they were staying.”

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!

Mary stayed outside the tomb crying. Then Jesus appeared and spoke to her.Easter 3

“Mary Magdalene left and announced to the disciples, ‘I’ve seen the Lord’.”

Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Later that same day while the disciples were behind closed doors Jesus to them. He offered words of peace to their fearful hearts and he empowered them to go into the world to carry on His work of forgiveness and redemption.

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

How could I stay in bed.

Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Foll’wing our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

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

It’s Easter!

Jamie Jenkins