The song of belonging to God
One of the most prolific hymn-writers Charles Wesley wrote 6,500 hymns. Charles and his brother John were the driving force for the Methodists, John was noted for his sermons and Wesley provided hymns of instruction for the Methodists. The Methodist Dictionary of Hymnology lists 482 original hymns by the Wesley brothers, which exhibits their tremendous influence on English hymnody during the 19th century. Charles’ hymns would support Methodist theological concepts outlined by John during over an hour of Methodist service. Charles’ “Come, Let Us Use The Grace Divine” is utilized yearly during the US and UK Covenant Renewal event every first Sunday of the year.
This hymn “Come, Let Us Use The Grace Divine” is considered a signature hymn of the Wesleys and just as we read the most recent printings, it appeared almost exactly this way in English hymnals throughout the centuries. It appeared for the first time in the Short Hymns From Select Passages of the Holy Scriptures (1762) and later in John Wesley’s A Collection of Hymns for the use of the People Called Methodists (1780). The brothers’ works were steeped in Scripture, for instance, the first stanza was quoted from Jeremiah 50:5. The hymn was sung during the historical first Covenant Renewal (1755) attended by 1,800 in London.
The melody that was paired with Welsey’s hymn lyrics is the “Kingsfold”, which has its roots in traditional English music, perhaps dating even as far back as the Middle Ages. It was published in English Country Songs (1893). Ralph Vaughan Williams, the one who paired “Come, Let Us Use The Grace Divine” with “Kingsfold”, heard the tune in Kingsfold, Sussex, England. Vaughan included “Kingsfold” in the mix of the English Hymnal (1906). The characteristic of the tune is stately and bold, suitable for unison or harmonized singing.