Wesley Bros: Face the Music, Charles

In today’s comic, Charles is faced with the trap of now. A 12-year-old internet sensation comes to make his antiquated poetry relevant to the youtube generation. I’ve never worked for the Christian music industry, but I think my anime consultant has got some pretty good ideas. I mean, I would TOTALLY watch videos of Charles Wesley hymns set to Taylor Swift songs over footage of kids playing video games.

The world is full of staccato notes.

Most of us are happy for the church to provide a calm and steady bass line in our one-hit wonder lives. To argue over whether classic hymns or modern worship matter more is to beat at air.  Singing familiar songs in worship often sets us free to actually consider the words we’re singing, and sets us at ease to relax our soul in the presence of God.

And yet Psalm 96 proclaims:

“Sing to the Lord a new song!

    Sing to the Lord, all the earth!

Sing to the Lord! Bless his name!

    Share the news of his saving work every single day!

Just because the Christian music industry pumps out a million new songs a year doesn’t mean there are no gems to discover. Modern worship and old hymns alike are both connecting with the church now. Forgotten hymns are being set to modern tunes and old becomes new again.

When most of us can’t see beyond the now, worship music often connects the soul to the deeper pulse of Creation. When we become trapped in regrets for past sins, or fear of unknown futures, prayer and praise ground us in God’s heart song, which sings:

“I have loved you with a love that lasts forever.

    And so with unfailing love,

        I have drawn you to myself.” Jeremiah 31:3

Jesus, Lover of My Soul

In 1738 (possibly 1740), Charles Wesley penned the incredibly intimate hymn, Jesus, Lover of My Soul, originally titled “In Temptation.” It wouldn’t be set to a tune until after Wesley’s death. Lyrically, it speaks to a profound belief that Christ alone can provide real shelter from the most painful situations in life. It has been set to a tune of lament, which you can hear at this link, if you’re not familiar.

Indelible Grace has created a new musical setting for the song which I much prefer. Still with a feeling of lament, but maybe just the kind of lament the average person would actually sing. Now if they would just place it over a video of someone playing Legend of Zelda, I would be golden.

Let the words of the hymn wash over you today. Pray them. Listen to the tune. Rewrite the words in your own language. Grab your synthesizer and compose a new melody. Whatever you do, connect the now of your anxieties to the heart song of God’s great love for you.

Jesus, lover of my soul,

Let me to Thy bosom fly,

While the nearer waters roll,

While the tempest still is high:

Hide me, O my Savior, hide,

Till the storm of life is past;

Safe into the haven guide;

O receive my soul at last.

Other refuge have I none,

Hangs my helpless soul on Thee;

Leave, oh, leave me not alone,

Still support and comfort me.

All my trust on Thee is stayed,

All my help from Thee I bring;

Cover my defenseless head

With the shadow of Thy wing.

Thou, O Christ, art all I want;

More than all in Thee I find;

Raise the fallen, cheer the faint,

Heal the sick and lead the blind.

Just and holy is Thy name,

I am all unrighteousness;

Vile and full of sin I am,

Thou art full of truth and grace.

Plenteous grace with Thee is found,

Grace to cover all my sin;

Let the healing streams abound;

Make and keep me pure within.

Thou of life the fountain art,

Freely let me take of Thee;

Spring Thou up within my heart,

Rise to all eternity.

When not drawing the Wesley Bros cartoon, the Rev. Charlie Baber, a United Methodist deacon, serves as youth minister at University United Methodist Church in Chapel Hill, N.C. His cartoon appears on United Methodist Insight by special arrangement.     

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