The light of Israel shall be for a fire, and His Holy One for a flame. Isaiah 10:17
Jackson’s 1848 Memoirs of the Rev. Charles Wesley states the hymn was written…on the joyful occasion of his ministerial success, and that of his fellow labourers, in Newcastle and vicinity. Perhaps the imagery was suggested by the large fires connected with the collieries, which illuminate the whole of that part of the country in the darkest nights.
See how great a flame aspires,
Kindled by a spark of grace!
Jesu’s love the nations fires,
Sets the kingdoms on a blaze:
To bring fire on earth He came;
Kindled in some hearts it is:
O that all might catch the flame,
All partake the glorious bliss!
When He first the work begun,
Small and feeble was His day:
Now the Word doth swiftly run;
Now it wins its widening way:
More and more it spreads, and grows,
Ever mighty to prevail;
Sin’s strongholds it now o’erthrows,
Shakes the trembling gates of hell.
Sons of God, your Savior praise!
He the door hath opened wide!
He hath giv’n the word of grace,
Jesus’ word is glorified;
Jesus mighty to redeem,
He alone the work hath wrought;
Worthy is the work of Him,
Him who spake a world from naught.
Saw ye not the cloud arise,
Little as a human hand?
Now it spreads along the skies,
Hangs o’er all the thirsty land!
Lo! the promise of a shower
Drops already from above;
But the Lord will shortly pour
All the spirit of His love.