Scripture Verse

The everlasting God. Genesis 21:33

Introduction

portrait
John B. Dykes
(1823–1876)

Words: Charles Wes­ley, 1749, alt.

Music: St. Bees John B. Dykes, 1862 (🔊 pdf nwc).

portrait
Charles Wesley
(1707–1788)

Origin of the Hymn

Charles Wes­ley’s Hymns for a Fa­mi­ly have a pe­cul­iar charm, and they all seem to date from the hymn, Come, thou ev­er­last­ing Lord.

Wes­ley had re­mained sin­gle for near­ly for­ty years. He then met a young la­dy in Wales who in­ter­est­ed him great­ly, and af­ter much pon­der­ing and con­sul­ta­tion and hymn-writ­ing, he pro­posed, was ac­cept­ed, and was mar­ried Sa­tur­day, April 8th, 1749.

From the ex­per­i­enc­es of that wed­ding and that mar­riage these hymns came, and they will be more and more re­mark­a­ble for their per­fect fit­ness to the vic­is­si­tudes of fa­mi­ly life, as they are stu­died with this fact in view.

The bride­groom’s own ex­per­i­ence can be best giv­en in his own lan­guage:

Not a cloud was to be seen from morn­ing till night. I rose at four; spent three and a half hours in pray­er, or sing­ing, with my bro­ther, with Sal­ly, with Beck.

At eight, I led My Sal­ly to church. Her fa­ther, si­ster, La­dy Rudd, Grace Bow­en, Bet­ty Will­iams, and I think, Bi­lly Tuck­er, and Mr. James were all the per­sons pre­sent.

At the church-door I thought of the pro­phe­cy of a jea­lous friend, that if we were ev­en at the church-door to be mar­ried, she was sure, by re­ve­la­tion, that we could get no far­ther. We both smiled at the re­mem­brance. We got far­ther.

Mr. Gwynne gave her to me (un­der God); my bro­ther joined our hands. It was a most sol­emn sea­son of love!

Ne­ver had I more of the Di­vine Pre­sence at the sac­ra­ment. My bro­ther gave out the fol­low­ing hymn: Come, thou Ev­er­last­ing Lord, etc. He then prayed ov­er us in strong faith.

We walked back to the house, and joined again in pray­er. Pray­er and thanks­giv­ing was our whole em­ploy­ment. We were cheer­ful with­out mirth, ser­ious with­out sad­ness… My bro­ther seemed the hap­pi­est per­son among us.

Not ma­ny men are mar­ried to the mu­sic of their own hymn as Charles Wes­ley was.

Duffield, pp. 115–16.

Lyrics

Come, Thou everlasting Lord,
With Thy presence crown the board;
Condescend to be a guest,
At Thy creatures’ humble feast.

Now Thine own appointment grace,
With Thy presence in this place;
Wedded may our spirits be,
Heavenly Bridegroom, unto Thee.

May this newly-wedded pair
Learn each other’s cross to bear;
Partners of each other’s joy,
Every gift for Thee employ.

Husband, wife, are now one twain,
One in heart may they remain;
One in sentiment and will,
All the law of love fulfill.

Glory to Thy sovereign grace,
Thus to multiply our race;
May their offspring be, indeed,
To the Lord a holy seed.

May the household all, at last,
Come to the eternal feast;
Drink at large the heavenly wine,
Flowing from the living Vine.

May our every action tend
To Thy glory as its end:
Our affections, Lord, refine,
Thou canst make the water wine.

At the marriage of the Lamb,
When the ready Bride is come,
We shall at the marriage feast
Find the best is kept till last.