This is the day that … a Hymn was born.
Charles Wesley – on 23 May, 1738 – wrote in his journal: “At nine I began a hymn on my conversion but was persuaded to break off for fear of pride.”
It was two days earlier – 21 May – that he had come to a saving knowledge of Christ through reading Luther’s Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians!
Then he penned the first of about 7000 hymns (and many of them had a dozen or so stanzas. His poem on Whitefield had 536 lines).
But persist he did with that first hymn – “I prayed Christ to stand by me and finished the hymn…”
Two days later Charles and his brother, John (converted 24 May, 1738) were singing the hymn together “with great joy!”
But what was the hymn? Almost certainly it was …
Where shall my wondering soul begin?
How shall I all to Heaven aspire?
A slave redeemed from death and sin,
A brand plucked from eternal fire.
And there are those who believe that he wrote at about the same time …
And can it be that I should gain
an interest in the Saviour’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
So it was that on this day in 1738 the ‘Sweet Singer of Methodism’ began to write his hymns … and he never stopped until he was on his deathbed (in 1788) – and even then he dictated a hymn for his wife to write down …
In age and feebleness extreme
who shall a sinful worm redeem?
Jesus, my only hope Thou art,
Strength of my failing flesh and heart.
Oh could I catch a smile from Thee
And drop into eternity!