Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday of Epiphany 6: Wrestling Jacob

Opening Sentence
I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth. Isaiah 49:6b

Commemoration: Onesimus
Almighty God, you proclaim your truth in every age by many voices: We thank you for the life of Onesimus. Let his willingness to confront his situation inspire us to a like bravery; to the honor of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Psalter: Psalm 102

Lessons: Genesis 32:22-33:17, 1 John 3:1-10, John 10:31-42

Of the over 8,000 hymns he wrote during his lifetime, Charles Wesley was best remembered by his contemporaries for one which was based on a portion of today's Old Testament reading. "Wrestling Jacob," more commonly known today by its first line, "Come, O Thou Traveler Unknown," is considered by many to be the greatest English language hymn ever written. It is a reputation earned, not least of all, because of the high praise it received from the Father of English Hymnody himself, Isaac Watts.

Following Charles Wesley's death, his brother John paid tribute to him in the Minutes of the Methodist Conference of 1780. Included was a prominent mention of his greatest hymn.

Mr. Charles Wesley, who, after spending fourscore years with much sorrow and pain, quietly retired into Abraham's bosom. He had no disease; but after a gradual decay of some months,

The weary wheels of life stood still at last.

His least praise was, his talent for poetry; although Dr. Watts did not scruple to say, that "that single poem, Wrestling Jacob, is worth all the verses which I have ever written."

(JAG)

Come, O Thou Traveler Unknown