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Hymns on the Lord's Supper

This collection, first published in 1745, went through nine editions in the Wesleys' lifetime. It was based on The Christian Sacrament and Sacrifice (1673) by Dr Daniel Brevint, a Caroline divine who became Dean of Lincoln after the Restoration, and is a reminder of the sacramentalism which was complementary to, and integrated with, early Methodist evangelicalism. The book was in two parts: a lengthy extract prepared by John Wesley from Brevint's treatise was followed by a series of 166 hymns, mostly by Charles Wesley, which formed a series of versified meditations on Brevint's words. The hymns celebrate the sacrament as not only a memorial but a means of grace and a 'pledge of heaven'. They do not hesitate to speak of Christ's 'real presence' and express a 'high' doctrine of the sacrament which anticipated the Anglo-Catholic revival by a hundred years, but was lost to nineteenth-century Methodism in its reaction against high Anglicanism. A number of the hymns remain in use; e.g. 'God of unexampled grace' (HP 166), 'Jesus, we thus obey' (HP 614) and 'Let him to whom we now belong' (HP 698). (Cf. HP 298, 596, 602,629.)

Sources

  • J. Ernest Rattenbury, The Eucharistic Hymns of John and Charles Wesley (1948)
  • John C. Bowmer, The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper in Early Methodism (1951) pp.166-86
  • C. Norman R. Wallwork, 'Hymns on the Lord's Supper', in WHS Proceedings, 43 pp.92-94
  • Gordon S. Wakefield, 'The Wesley Hymns on the Lord's Supper (1745) in history and eucharistic theology', in Martin R. Dudley (ed.), Like a Two-edged Sword: the word of God in liturgy and history (Norwich, 1995)
  • Daniel B. Stevick, 'The Altar and the Cross: the Atonement in Charles Wesley's Hymns on the Lord's Supper', in Proceedings of the Charles Wesley Society, vol. 5 (1998) pp.61-80
  • Arnold H. Cooper, Divine Compassion: the intercession of our Lord - Charles wesleys eucharistic hymns today (Nantwich, 1999)
  • James N. Alexander, '"With eloquence in speech and song": Anglican reflections on the eucharistic hymns of John and Charles Wesley', in James N. Alexander (ed.), With Ever jopyful Hearts: essays on liturgy and music... (New York, 1999) pp.244-60
  • Daniel B. Stevick, The Altar's Fire: Charles Wesley's 'Hymns on the Lord's Supper', 1745 (Peterborough, 2004)
  • Karen B. Westerfield Tucker, 'Polemic against stillness in the Hymns on the Lord's Supper ', in Charles Wesley after 300 Years (Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, 88:2 (2006) pp. 101-19
  • Paul Ellingworth, 'How were the 1745 Hymns on the Lord's Supper used?', in WHS Proceedings, 60, pp.27-9
  • Paul W. Chilcote, Eucharist and formation' in Jason E Vickers (ed.), A Wesleyan Theology of the Eucharist (Nashville, 2016)

Entry written by: JAV
Category: Publication

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