Charles Wesley


Their understanding of conversion
expressed through their hymns.

Fanny Crosby
(1820-1915)

Charles Wesley
(1707- 1788)

This page contains text examples of categories relating to the way Charles Wesley and Fanny Crosby understood conversion. They both wrote hymns to help people recognize their sin, respond to God's invitation of grace, and commit their lives to God. The list does not attempt to be exhaustive.

Text locations are designated by the following hymnal key:

  • GH- Gospel Hymns Nos. 1 to 6 Complete (1895)
  • MH- Methodist Hymnal (1905)
  • UMH- United Methodist Hymnal (1989)

CATEGORY ONE: RECOGNITION HYMN TEXTS

  • I. An individual exhorting others to recognize their sinful nature and the cleansing offering of God through Jesus Christ
    • A. Frances Jane Crosby Van Alstyne
      1. Calling to Thee (GH #456)
      2. Come, Come Away (GH #547)
      3. Come to the Fountain (GH #274)
      4. Coming Today (GH #513)
      5. He Died for Thee (GH #506)
      6. Jesus is Calling (GH #308)
      7. O What a Savior (GH #404)
      8. Oh What Are You Going to Do (GH #106)
      9. Only a Step to Jesus (GH #66)
      10. Redemption (GH #276)
      11. Sound the Alarm (GH # 246)
      12. Tenderly Calling (GH #479)
      13. Though Your Sins Be As Scarlet (GH #549)
      14. Where is thy Refuge (GH # 185)
      15. Whoever Will (GH #325)
      16. Whosoever Calleth (GH #548)
      17. Whosoever Will May Come (GH #435)
      18. Yes There is Pardon for You (GH #55)
    • B. Charles Wesley
      1. Awake, Jerusalem, Awake! (MH #217)
      2. Blow ye the trumpet, blow ["The year of Jubilee"] (UMH #379)
      3. Come, sinners, to the gospel feast ["The Great Supper"] (UMH # 339 & #616)
      4. Glory to God, and praise and love (UMH #58, vs. 7-18)
      5. O Love divine, what hast thou done (UMH #287)
      6. Sinners, turn: why will you die? (UMH #346)
      7. Thou Son of God, whose flaming eyes (MH #245)
      8. Weary souls, that wander wide ["The Invitation"] (MH #262)
      9. Where shall my wondering soul begin (UMH #342)
  • II. An individual testifying to a recognition of their sinful nature and the cleansing offering of God through Jesus Christ
    • B. Charles Wesley
      1. Christ, whose glory fills the skies ["Morning Hymn"], (UMH #173)
      2. Depth of mercy ["After a Relapse into Sin"] (UMH #355)
      3. Jesus, lover of my soul (UMH #479)
      4. Jesus, the sinner's Friend (MH #271)
      5. Glory to God, and praise and love (UMH #58, vs. 1-6)
      6. Stay, thou insulted Spirit, stay ["Penitential Hymn"] (MH # 269)

CATEGORY TWO: RESPONSE HYMN TEXTS

  • I. An individual confessing their sinful nature and petitioning God for forgiveness
    • A. Frances Jane Crosby Van Alstyne
      1. Come Great Deliverer Come (GH #339)
      2. Coming Home Tonight (GH #503)
      3. Jesus, My All (GH #516)
      4. Pass Me Not Oh Gentle Savior (UMH #351)
      5. The Shadow of the Rock (GH #423)
    • B. Charles Wesley
      1. And Can I Yet Delay ["The Resignation"] (MH #275)
      2. Father, I Stretch My Hands to Thee ["A Prayer of Faith"] (MH #277)
      3. O come and dwell in me ["Seeking for full redemption"] (UMH #388)
      4. O for a heart to praise my God ["Make me a clean heart, O God"] (UMH #417)

  • II. An individual testifying to reconciliation with God
    • A. Frances Jane Crosby Van Alstyne
      1. Rejoice, Rejoice Believer (GH #352)
      2. Safe in the Arms of Jesus (GH #6)
      3. Saved by the Blood (GH #140)
      4. This I Know (GH #242)
      5. Wonderful Love (GH #507)
    • B. Charles Wesley
      1. Arise, my soul, arise ["Behold the Man"] (MH #301)
      2. Father of Jesus Christ, my Lord (MH #297)
      3. How can a sinner know ["The Marks of Faith"] (MH #303)
      4. Thou hidden source of calm repose ["Hymn for Believers. For the Morning"] (UMH #153)
CATEGORY THREE: COMMITMENT HYMN TEXTS
  • I. An individual professing commitment to God
    • A. Frances Jane Crosby Van Alstyne
      1. All the Way My Savior Leads Me (GH #42)
      2. Nearer the Cross (GH #320)
      3. Only Trusting in My Savior (GH #153)
      4. Savior, More Than Life (GH #593)
      5. Search Me O Lord (GH #480)
      6. Take Thou My Hand (GH #486)
      7. We Praise Thee, We Bless Thee (GH #451)
    • B. Charles Wesley
      1. A Charge to Keep I Have (UMH #413, vs. 2)
      2. And Must I Be To Judgement Brought (MH #600, vs. 3,4)
      3. Forth in Thy Name ["Before Work"] (MH #400)
      4. Jesus, the Name high over all (MH #222)
      5. O Thou Who camest from above (UMH #501)

  • II. An individual petitioning God for strength to persevere in their commitment to God
    • A. Frances Jane Crosby Van Alstyne
      1. Close to Thee (UMH #407)
      2. Hide Me, Oh Savior (GH #440)
      3. Hide Thou Me (GH #230)
      4. Hold Thou My Hand (GH #356)
      5. Shine On, O Star! (GH # 292)
    • B. Charles Wesley
      1. A Charge to Keep I Have (UMH #413, vs. 3,4)
      2. Give Me the Faith (UMH #650)
      3. I want a principle within ["For a Tender Conscious"] (UMH #410)

  • III. An individual exhorting others to persevere in their commitment to God
    • A. Frances Jane Crosby Van Alstyne 1. Onward, Upward (GH #60)
      2. O Child of God (GH #275)
      3. Press On (GH #540)
      4. Some Sweet Day, By and By (GH # 371)
      5. They That Be Wise (GH #287)
      6. Will Jesus Find Us Watching (GH #659)
    • B. Charles Wesley 1. And Are We Yet Alive (UMH #553, vs. 6)
      2. Come on, my partners in distress (MH #432)

  • IV. An individual exhorting others to expand their commitment to God
    • A. Frances Jane Crosby Van Alstyne
      1. Gather Them In (GH #566)
      2. Have You Sought? (GH #536)
      3. Only a beam of Sunshine (GH #300)
      4. Rescue the Perishing (UMH #591)
      5. Speed Away (GH #544)
      6. To the Work (GH #576)


  • V. The community exhorting each other to expand their commitment to God
    • A. Frances Jane Crosby Van Alstyne
      1. Parting Hymn (GH #189)
    • B. Charles Wesley
      1. And Let Our Bodies Part ["At Parting"] (MH #227, vs.2)
      2. Christ, from whom all blessing flow ["Communion of Saints"] (UMH #550)
      3. Let us plead for faith alone ["The Love Feast- Justification"] (UMH # 385)
      4. Come and let us sweetly join ["The Love Feast"] (UMH #699)
      5. Come, let us use the grace divine ["The Covenant Hymn"] (UMH #606)
      6. Let Him to whom we now belong (MH #373)
      7. O Thou, whom all thy saints adore ["Entering into the congregation"] (MH #13)
      8. Soldiers of Christ, Arise ["The Whole Armor of God"] (UMH #513)
      9. Talk with us, Lord, thyself reveal ["On a Journey"] (MH #499)
      10. Ye servants of God, your Master proclaim (UMH #181)
CATEGORY FOUR: COMBINATION HYMN TEXTS
  • I. Hymn texts exemplifying both categories one and two
    • A. Charles Wesley
      1. Ah! Whither Should I Go (MH #283)

  • II. Hymn texts exemplifying both categories two and three
    • A. Frances Jane Crosby Van Alstyne
      1. Blessed Assurance (UMH #369)
      2. I am Thine Oh Lord (UMH #419)
      3. Near the Cross (UMH #301)
    • B. Charles Wesley
      1. Give me a new, a perfect heart ["Pleading the Promise of Sanctification"] (MH #366)
      2. Jesus, Thine all victorious love (UMH #422)
      3. Lord in the strength of grace (MH #352)
      4. Love divine, all loves excelling (UMH #384)

  • III. Hymn texts exemplifying categories one, two and three
    • A. Charles Wesley
      1. And Can It Be ["Free Grace"] (UMH #363)
      2. Come, O thou Traveler unknown ["Wrestling Jacob"] (UMH #386)

    TOP


Personal conversion experiences remain a foundational doctrine of Methodism. Crosby and Wesley both wrote hymn texts for the three specific worship experiences surrounding conversion: recognition, response and commitment. These three categories may be further divided into subcategories based on content and writing style.

The category of "Recognition Hymns" divides into two subsets. The first subset contains texts exhorting others to recognize their sinful nature and the cleansing offering of God through Jesus Christ. They use language that sounds more like an intimate visit than a sermon in song. An example would be the first two verses of Crosby's Only a Step to Jesus.


Only a step to Jesus!

	Then why not take it now?

Come, and, thy sin confessing,

	To Him, thy Savior, bow. 



Only a step to Jesus!

	Believe, and thou shalt live;

Lovingly now He's waiting,

	And ready to forgive.  

The text names the listener as a sinner and Jesus as a patiently waiting Savior. The listener is told why and how to be saved from eternal death. The language is gentle and pleading in tone. The language of Wesley's texts of this subset also exhibit a welcoming, yet pleading tone as exemplified in Come, sinners to the Gospel Feast and Sinners, turn: why will you die?

The second subset of the Recognition Category contains texts that portray an individual testifying to a recognition of their sin. Wesley's Jesus, lover of my soul (vs. 2) is a heartfelt prayer of realization.

 Other refuge have I none, 

	hangs my helpless soul on Thee;

Leave, ah! leave me not alone, 

	still support and comfort me.

All my trust on Thee is stayed, 

	all my help from Thee I bring;

Cover my defenseless head 

	with the shadow of Thy wing. 

In Crosby's hymns, this realization is coupled with a confession and petition for forgiveness thus moving these texts to the next category.

"Response Hymns" also divide into two subsets: individual confessions of sin with a petition for God's forgiveness and testimonies of assurance. Crosby's Pass Me Not Oh Gentle Savior (a classic hymn of petition) and Safe in the Arms of Jesus are archetypes for this category. They poignantly describe the events directly preceding and following the moment of justification. Category Two contained the least amount of texts surveyed. More texts were devoted to calling sinners into repentance than illustrating the moment of conversion.

The majority of texts surveyed minister to believers as means of encouraging committed holy living. Commitment Hymns divide into five subsets due to the spectrum of post-conversion experiences encountered by believers. Wesley's A Charge to Keep I Have is the perfect illustration for the first subset.


A charge to keep I have,

A God to glorify,

A never-dying soul to save,

And fit it for the sky. 



To serve the present age,

My calling to fulfill:

O may it all my powers engage

To do my Master's will! 



Arm me with jealous care,

As in Thy sight to live;

And O Thy servant, Lord, prepare

A strict account to give! 



Help me to watch and pray,

And on Thyself rely,

Assured, if I my trust betray,

I shall for ever die.

The text clearly states the individual's commitment to God. The individuals know their success is not based on their own strength, but God's strength. They therefore petition God for help. Petitions which utilize begging or crying language are placed in the second subset because their tone contrasts markedly from the first subset. The language of the first two subsets is very introspective and often takes on the quality of private prayer as illustrated in Crosby's Hide Thou Me.


 In Thy cleft, O Rock of Ages,

	Hide Thou me;

When the fitful tempest rages,

	Hide Thou me;

Where no mortal are can sever

From my heart Thy love forever,

Hide me, O thou Rock of Ages,

	Safe in Thee.



From the snare of sinful pleasure,

	Hide Thou me;

Thou, my soul's eternal treasure,

	Hide Thou me;

When the world its power is wielding,

And my heart is almost yielding,

Hide me, O Thou Rock of Ages,

	Safe in Thee.



In the lonely night of sorrow,

	Hide Thou me;

Till in glory dawns the morrow,

	Hide Thou me;

In the sight of Jordan's billow,

Let Thy bosom be my pillow;

Hide me, O Thou Rock of Ages,

	Safe in Thee.

While the first two subsets contained texts couched in prayer language, the last three subsets contain texts couched in exhortation language. It is in the comparison of these texts that the priorities of Wesley and Crosby are most divergent. Subsets three and four contain texts in which an individual is exhorting believers to persevere. In the texts surveyed, Crosby writes four times more of this type of hymn text than Wesley. The fifth subset contains texts in which a community is exhorting itself persevere in holy living. In the texts surveyed, Wesley wrote ten texts for this category while Crosby only wrote one.

This information is now compared with Crosby's and Wesley's preference for writing invitation style hymns (category one). It is then possible to conclude, that the revival leaders in both of their time periods emphasized calling sinners to repentance, but that the revival leaders of Crosby's time period were more interested in the nurture of individuals rather than communities.

Historical evidence proves this conclusion true. Methodist bands and societies were much more important in Wesley's day than in Crosby's day. Crosby wrote for Moody's revivals. His emphasis was on the salvation of the individual, not the transformation of the "mother church." The Wesleys spent much of their time defining and defending Church of England/Methodist doctrine while Moody was more interested in "getting everybody saved and sanctified." Moody had little regard for maintaining a specific denomination's agenda. (transdenominationalism)

Therefore, it is appropriate to say that Crosby and Wesley wrote a body of hymn texts based upon the Wesleyan understanding of personal conversion experiences. They both wrote texts in the languages of exhortation and prayer. They both wrote texts for the three specific events of conversion (recognition, response and commitment) which fulfilled even more specialized experiences of believers and seekers. But, the priorities of the revival leaders in Crosby's time period caused her to write commitment texts which were aimed more at the individual while the priorities of the revival leaders in Wesley's time period caused him to write texts aimed more at the nurturing of the Methodist societies.  

Other Wesley/Crosby Links:


Conversion Poems

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