Scripturally-honed and spontaneous score
Englishman Charles Wesley is the greatest hymn-writer of all ages. He wrote thousands of hymns, among them that of commercialized Christmas prologue “Hark The Herald Angels Sing”. That one is dubbed as one of the “Great Four Anglican Hymns”. But beyond lighting up Christmas annually, Wesley, writer of 8,989 hymns, would’ve had to write 10 lines of verse daily during his entire lifetime. And that obsession of his had a goal which he shared with his biological brother. Together with John, the Wesley brothers were the founders of Methodism. The sermon work belonged to John, while it was Charles’ volume of hymns in the United Methodist Hymnal which imparted the knowledge that the Methodist movement wished to spread far beyond the walls of the church. The hymns of Charles, which he wrote predominantly for Methodist services were referred to by his brother as a “distinct and full account of scriptural Christianity”. The Methodist movement would have flopped without Charles’ hymns. Methodists share that characteristic of singing Charles’ hymns with devotion and gusto.
The over an hour Methodist service is presented as a study with 10 concept titles with corresponding hymns. Wesley’s “Christ, From Whom All Blessings Flow”, published in Hymns and Sacred Poems (1740), is the hymn for the session on The Church. It reinforces the tenets that the head of the church is Jesus Christ and the importance of unity of its members. Originally, it was part of a longer 78-stanza hymn but was redacted to its present form. It would’ve taken 30 minutes to sing the original form. Beyond being prolific, Wesley’s hymns which he wrote in quick succession, were his most excellent expressions of Christian life. He fostered a genuine understanding of what it took to keep the faith.
The English composer and organist Orlando Gibbons composed the tune “Song 13”, published in Hymns and Songs of the Church (1623) together with soprano and bass parts, later used for “Christ, From Whom All Blessings Flow”. The melody is similarly laid out as most hymns, meaning in all equal rhythms and it is played using light accompaniment.