Charles Wesley 1707-1788
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- Father, I stretch my hands to thee,
No other help I know;
If thou withdraw thyself from me,
Ah! whither shall I go?
2. What did thine only Son endure,
Before I drew my breath!
What pain, what labor, to secure
My soul from endless death!
3. O Jesus, could I this believe,
I now should feel Thy power;
Now my poor soul Thou wouldst retrieve,
Nor let me wait one hour.
4. Surely thou canst not let me die;
O speak, and I shall live;
And here I will unwearied lie,
Till thou thy Spirit give.
5. Author of faith! to thee I lift
My weary, longing eyes:
O let me now receive that gift!
My soul without it dies.
6. The worst of sinners would rejoice,
Could they but see Thy face:
O, let me hear Thy quickening voice,
And taste Thy pardoning grace.
1 Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord. 2 Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. 3 If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? 4 But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. 5 I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope. 6 My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning. 7 Let Israel hope in the Lord: for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption. 8 And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
Charles Wesley was the youngest son (18th child) of the Anglican cleric and poet Samuel and his wife Susanna Wesley. Now, trying to keep the Wesley family tree straight is just like following the Bach family tree; they both liked to recycle first names. Charles and his wife Sarah Gwynne (1726-1822) (also known as “Sally”) youngest son, also a poet and musician of note was named Samuel Wesley. He was the father of Samuel Sebastian Wesley. They also had a daughter named Sarah (1789-1828) who was known as “Sally”. Their oldest son’s name was Charles (Jr) (1757-1834) also. All of their children followed in their parents’ footsteps being musical prodigies and active musicians throughout their lives.
Several of Charles (Sr.) many siblings also were in the hymn writing business, most notably his older brother, John Wesley. There is some speculation as to the origination of some of the hymns the brothers produced. Though with about 6500 hymns known to be from Charles, if he had to share a few with his older brother, I doubt it matters.
While the Wesley brothers, especially John Wesley, are associated with Methodism and the Methodist Church during their lifetimes, this was a reforming movement within the Anglican Church of England. It wasn’t until after John’s death that the movement split from the Church of England and formed a separate organization.
Father, I stretch my hands to thee
This hymn reflects the same comfort through deep anguish the Psalmist did in Psalm 130.
As we stretch our hands to our Father; there is no other help which we know. If God were to withdraw Himself from us, where else could we go? There is no helping ourselves, without our Father in Heaven’s help, all is lost. Even before we were born, God’s Son endured the pain and labor to save us.
Even when we come to the end of our lives, we can rest in the security that we will not die. The author of our faith has given our souls the gift without which our souls would surely die. Even the worst sinners can rejoice in this gift, the gift of God’s pardoning grace. And in this we can have great security for God’s grace can cover whatever grievous sin man can commit.