Arise, my soul, arise

Arise, my soul, arise. Charles Wesley* (1707-1788). First published in Hymns and Sacred Poems (1742), in five 6-line stanzas. The text of this hymn remained unaltered in Methodist and other hymn-books until HP substituted:

He owns me for his child,
    His pardoning voice I hear;
In Jesus reconciled
    I can no longer fear.

for verse 5 lines 1-4 of the original:

My God is reconciled,
    His pardoning voice I hear,
He owns me for his child,
    I can no longer fear.

In the amended text, the believer is reconciled to God, rather than God being reconciled to the believer. This restatement of reconciliation is undoubtedly more faithful to Romans 5: 10-11, which is one of many biblical passages which have influenced these lines.

The hymn is ‘a daring interior monologue based on the contemplation of the five wounds of Christ’ (Companion to Hymns & Psalms, 1988, p. 152). Characteristically, Charles Wesley combines robust expression of Christian doctrine (in this case, the sacrificial death of Christ, his eternal intercession, the reconciliation and adoption of believers, and Christian assurance) with a bold exposition of the Christian’s experience of Christ’s saving work. Wesley conceives of Christ’s work as both finished (‘his blood atoned for all our race’) and yet continuing, as the sacrifice once offered on earth is pleaded in heaven (‘He ever lives above/ For me to intercede,/ His all-redeeming love,/ His precious blood to plead’).

This hymn, which was republished several times during the author’s lifetime, has remained in use in Methodist hymn-books and has commended itself to the editors of a number of other hymn-books, largely those with an evangelical emphasis. ‘It is impossible to conceive how many tried believers have had their faith strengthened and their hope of heaven brightened by this inestimable hymn’, wrote George John Stevenson (The Methodist Hymn Book Illustrated with Biography, History, Incident and Anecdote, 1898, p. 159).

Neil Dixon

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