Sundays After Pentecost
Unifying Themes and Hymns:
Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29
|"For such a time as
From Sorrow into Gladness
|582 Whom Shall I Send?
533 We Shall Overcome
394 Something Beautiful
512 Stand By Me
428 For the Healing of the Nations
503 Let It Breathe on Me
420 Breathe on Me Breath of God
572 It Only Takes a Spark
Thanking God for Deliverance
How to Guard against Sin
|523 Saranam, Saranam
Psalter 846,(alt. response 473)
73 O Worship the King
126 Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above
Psalter 751, response 1 (alt. response 473)
452 My Faith Looks Up to Thee
467 Trust and Obey
|Mark 9:38-50||Remove Hindrances to the
The Seriousness of Causing Others to Sin
|410 I Want a Principle Within
413 A Charge to Keep I Have
|James 5:13-20||Effective Prayer,
|492 Prayer is the Soul's Sincere Desire
463 Lord Speak to Me
458 Dear Lord, for All in Pain
382 Have Thine Own Way, Lord
496 Sweet Hour of Prayer
This hymn was first published by John and Charles Wesley in 1740, in Hymns and Sacred Poems. In that collection it carried the title, "After a Relapse into Sin." In a 1780 collection it came first in a section headed "For Mourners Convinced of Backsliding." Both these designations are instructive for understanding the text.
John Wesley held that freedom of choice is still possible after one's initial decision to accept the gift of salvation. In other words, "falling from grace" is a distinct possibility in the Christian life. Wesley had a keen sensitivity to it within himself and observed it repeatedly in the lives of the early members of the Methodist Societies. While we might prefer to call it "departing from grace," in order to be more theologically sound, nevertheless the concept embraces reality: Christians often fail to live up to the gift of grace they have received. The late Bishop Mack B. Stokes referred to falling from grace as a doctrine which Methodists preach and everyone practices.
In a letter to Joseph Bradford (1783) Wesley reveals his personal grieving of God by his "thousand falls," and his only source of hope for salvation.
An interesting ancedote is connected with this hymn, and is related by Rev. J. Ward in Round and Through the Wesleyan Hymn Book (1868):
Originally the text contained 13 four-line stanzas. Various combinations of them have been used in every Methodist hymnal until they were reduced to 5 stanzas in 1849 and then 4 in 1935. Here are the current stanzas used in the 1989 Hymnal which restore the 1849 arrangment:
1. Depth of mercy! Can there be |
mercy still reserved for me?
Can my God his wrath forbear,
me, the chief of sinners, spare?
2. I have long withstood his grace, |
long provoked him to his face,
would not hearken to his calls,
grieved him by a thousand falls.
3. I my Master have denied, |
I afresh have crucified,
oft profaned his hallowed name,
put him to an open shame.
4. There for me the Savior stands, |
shows his wounds and spreads his hands.
God is love! I know, I feel;
Jesus weeps and loves me still.
The tune, CANTERBURY, selected for the 1989 Hymnal, rather than SEYMOUR used in at least the two previous hymnals, combines the text with a tune that was in existence in Wesley's day.
In order to maintain the hymn's emphasis on the exceeding sensibility to one's own sin, and the need for God's graciousness, consider using the hymn as a hymn of confession. This could be as a variation from a unison prayer of confession, or after a call to repentance in the sermon. In either case be sure to follow the hymn with words of pardon and assurance.
God bless you--
Lection at HymnSite.com
Contributed by Rev. Linda K. Morgan-Clark
Esther: See Index listing, "Courage" p.940; "Freedom and Liberation"
p.941; "Triumph" p.953; see also Hymns 509-536 (Strength in Tribulation)
Numbers: See Index listing, "Holy Spirit" p.943; see also Hymns 126-143 (Called to God's Mission); Hymns 328-336 (In Praise of the Holy Spirit)
Psalm 124: See same Index listings as Esther, above; see also Hymns
57-101 (Praise and Thanksgiving)
Psalm 19: See Index listing, "Trust" p.953, "Faith" p.941; see also Hymns 451-508 (Prayer, Trust, Hope)
See Index listing, "Confession" p.939, "Penitence" p.949; see also Hymns 337-350 (Invitation), 351-360 (Repentance), 561-367 (Pardon)
See Index listing, "Prayer" p.949, "Healing" p.943; go to previous lections for additional hymns on the "tongue"
God bless you!
|Passages suggested are from The Revised Common Lectionary: Consultation on Common Texts (Abingdon Press, 1992) copyright © by the Consultation on Common Texts (CCT), P.O. Box 340003, Room 381, Nashville TN 37203-0003. Reprinted with permission of CCT.|