Scripture Verse

I have stretched out my hands unto Thee.@Psalm 88:9

Introduction

portrait
Hans G. Nägeli
(1773–1836)

Words: Charles Wes­ley, A Col­lect­ion of Psalms and Hymns 1741.

Music: Na­o­mi Hans G. Nä­ge­li. Ar­ranged by Lo­well Ma­son, 1836 (🔊 pdf nwc).

portrait
Charles Wesley
(1707–1788)

Background

This was the hymn John Downes gave out on Fri­day, No­vem­ber 4, 1774, when death seized him in West Street Cha­pel, Lon­don. Wes­ley took great pride in this preach­er’s me­chan­ic­al gen­i­us, and in the portrait which Downes made of him.

In the af­ter­noon be­fore his ap­point­ment, Downes said, ‘I feel such a love to the peo­ple of West Street, that I would be con­tent to die with them. I do not find my­self ve­ry well; but I must be with them this ev­en­ing.’ His text was ‘Come un­to Me, all ye that la­bour and are hea­vy laden,’ and great pow­er at­tend­ed the mes­sage; but when he had spok­en for ten min­utes his strength was gone, and he gave out the lines—

Father, I stretch my hands to Thee,
No other help I know.

His voice failed. He fell on his knees, as if he in­tend­ed to pray, ‘but he could not be heard.’ The preach­ers who were pres­ent raised him up and bore him to bed, where he soon breathed his last breath. He was on­ly fif­ty-two.

Telford, pp. 228–29

Lyrics

Father, I stretch my hands to Thee,
No other help I know;
If Thou withdraw Thyself from me,
Ah! whither shall I go?

What did Thine only Son endure,
Before I drew my breath?
What pain, what labor, to secure
My soul from endless death!

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.

Surely Thou canst not let me die;
O speak, and I shall live;
And here I will unwearied lie,
Till Thou Thy Spirit give.

Author of faith, to Thee I lift
My weary, longing eyes:
O let me now receive that gift!
My soul without it dies!

The worst of sinners would rejoice,
Could they but see Thy face:
O, let me hear Thy quickening voice,
And taste Thy pardoning grace.