O FOR A THOUSAND TONGUES TO SING                                                written in 1739

The Story

Charles Wesley wrote over 6,000 hymns, many of which were subsequently reprinted, frequently with alterations, in hymnals, particularly those of Methodist Churches.

Before they were converted, John & Charles Wesley were known as Methodists. Then they met German Moravians – who loved to sing, were very missions-minded, and emphasized a personal conversion experience.

Charles Wesley was suffering a bout of pleurisy in May, 1738, while he and his brother were studying under the Moravian scholar, Peter Böhler, in London. At the time, Wesley was plagued by extreme doubts about his faith. Taken to bed with the sickness on May 21, Wesley was cared for by a group of these Moravian brethren. He was deeply affected by this… and was truly converted. (By the way, his brother, John, was converted 3 days later, on May 24th.)

One of the Moravian leaders, Peter Bohler, once said to Charles, “Oh, Brother Wesley, the Lord has done so much for my life. Had I a thousand tongues, I would praise Christ Jesus with all of them.” This was the inspiration for Charles to build a hymn to celebrate the date of his own conversion.

When Charles Wesley wrote this hymn, the original title was intended to be, “For the Anniversary Day of One’s Conversion”. It was written on May 21, 1739, on the anniversary of his own conversion.

Charles had known for most of his life that Jesus had died on a cross to pay the penalty for his sins. But, on May 21, 1738, he accepted and applied it personally – “His blood availed for me.”

The Song

            Read these lyrics and, today, use them to celebrate your own salvation…

You probably haven’t ever sung all 19 verses Charles wrote; but here they are…

O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise,
the glories of my God and King, the triumphs of His grace!

My gracious Master and my God, assist me to proclaim,
to spread through all the earth abroad the honors of Thy name.

Jesus! the name that charms our fears, that bids our sorrows cease;
’tis music in the sinner’s ears, ’tis life, and health, and peace.

He breaks the power of canceled sin, He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean, His blood availed for me.

He speaks, and, listening to His voice, new life the dead receive;
the mournful, broken hearts rejoice, the humble poor believe.

Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb, your loosened tongues employ;
ye blind, behold your Savior come, and leap, ye lame, for joy.

In Christ your Head, you then shall know, shall feel your sins forgiven;
anticipate your heaven below, and own that love is heaven.

Glory to God, and praise and love be ever, ever given,
by saints below and saints above, the church in earth and heaven.

On this glad day the glorious Sun of Righteousness arose;
on my benighted soul He shone and filled it with repose.

Sudden expired the legal strife, ’twas then I ceased to grieve;
my second, real, living life I then began to live.

Then with my heart I first believed, believed with faith divine;
power with the Holy Ghost received to call the Savior mine.

I felt my Lord’s atoning blood close to my soul applied;
me, me He loved, the Son of God, for me, for me He died!

I found and owned His promise true, ascertained of my part,
my pardon passed in heaven I knew when written on my heart.

Look unto Him, ye nations, own your God, ye fallen race;
look, and be saved through faith alone, be justified by grace.

See all your sins on Jesus laid: the Lamb of God was slain;
His soul was once an offering made for every soul of man.

Awake from guilty nature’s sleep, and Christ shall give you light;
cast all your sins into the deep, and wash the Æthiop white.

Harlots and publicans and thieves in holy triumph join!
Saved is the sinner that believes from crimes as great as mine.

Murderers and all ye hellish crew in holy triumph join!
Believe the Savior died for you; for me the Savior died.

With me, your chief, ye then shall know, shall feel your sins forgiven;
anticipate your heaven below, and own that love is heaven.

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One response »

  1. Al DeFilippo says:

    Thank you for the post. For more on Charles Wesley, I would like to invite you to the website for the book series, The Asbury Triptych Series. The trilogy based on the life of Francis Asbury, the young protégé of John Wesley and George Whitefield, opens with the book, Black Country. The opening novel in this three-book series details the amazing movement of Wesley and Whitefield in England and Ireland as well as its life-changing effect on a Great Britain sadly in need of transformation. Black Country also details the Wesleyan movement’s effect on the future leader of Christianity in the American colonies, Francis Asbury. The website for the book series is http://www.francisasburytriptych.com. Please enjoy the numerous articles on the website. Again, thank you, for the post.

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