Monday, November 19, 2012

I Thirst

An important facet of the spiritual formation of John Wesley, founder of Methodism, began long before his heart-warming experience on Aldersgate Street. As he traveled to Georgia in mission, he fell in love with the singing of German Moravians. Their spiritual songs and poetry, venturing beyond conventional metrical psalms of the time, captivated his soul.

It would take him a while to embrace the "religion of the heart" he was beginning to taste. But he was so touched that he learned German in order to translate their songs. Long before his brother Charles began his career as the most prolific hymn writer of history, John introduced these songs to his mission. It was such a radical idea that he was accused of introducing songs that were "not inspected or authorized by any proper judicature."

I have been meditating on one of these spiritual songs I found in praying through my 1813 copy of the "Double Hymnbook," a pocket hymnal with a supplement compiled by Bishop Asbury. It contains "I Thirst, Thou Wounded Lamb of God", one of these hymns translated from German by John Wesley. It captivates me. I have included the text below, and in a future post I may add some of my commentary.

For a beautiful contemporary musical setting, listen to "I Thirst".

I thirst, thou wounded Lamb of God,
To wash me in thy cleansing blood,
To dwell within thy wounds; then pain
Is sweet, and life or death is gain.

Take my poor heart, and let it be
For ever closed to all but thee!
Seal thou my breast, and let me wear;
That pledge of love for ever there!

How blest are they who still abide
Close sheltered in thy bleeding side,
Who life and strength from thence derive,
And by thee move, and in thee live.

What are our works but sin and death,
Till thou thy quickening Spirit breathe!
Thou giv'st the power thy grace to move;
O wondrous grace! O boundless love!

How can it be, thou heavenly King,
That thou shouldst us to glory bring?
Make slaves the partners of thy throne,
Decked with a never-fading crown?

Hence our hearts melt, our eyes o'erflow,
Our words are lost; nor will we know,
Nor will we think of aught beside,
"My Lord, my Love is crucified."

Ah, Lord! enlarge our scanty thought,
To know the wonders thou hast wrought;
Unloose our stammering tongues, to tell
Thy love immense, unsearchable.

First-born of many brethren thou!
To thee, lo! all our souls we bow:
To thee our hearts and hands we give:
Thine may we die, thine may we live!