Ponte Sant' Angelo Methodist Church
10 March 2019
A Charge to Keep I Have
Words by Charles Wesley
Music by Lowell Mason
Tune Name: BOYLSTON
Christ had already encountered temptations of the Devil in the wilderness. As He continued His preparation for ministry, the Devil came to Him again. This time He was taken to the highest place in the temple and was tempted to cast himself off, for it was said in the scriptures, "He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone." What could be the problem with that? After all, Christ is the Son of God, and people ought to know about it, right? But Christ answered, "Do not put the Lord your God to the test." Ah--the test. Could God protect Christ? Of course. When Christ needed protection, would God protect Christ? Of course. But that was God's decision to make as God, not Christ's decision to make as man.
Christ could have attracted multitudes with the public spectacle of jumping safely from the top of the temple. To do so, however, God would have been put "on the spot" to supply "the greatest show on earth." Our salvation, though, is not based on flashy side shows here on earth, but on the glory and grace of God Himself in heaven. Our role in the process, like Christ's, is to do God's work; our role is not to test God's power.
The featured hymn this week was written by Charles Wesley, the brother of John Wesley, who is credited with founding the Methodist movement. During the course of his life, Charles wrote over 5,000 hymns, which provided the primary source for the hymn collections prepared by John Wesley. Charles' style was comparatively new to the world of hymn writing. Instead of trying to adapt music to King James texts or paraphrasing texts to fit standard musical forms, Charles identified scriptural themes and wrote hymns to proclaim God's truth.
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:
Oh, may it all my pow’rs 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 forever die.
One verse of this week's hymn says:
To serve the present age, my calling to fulfill; O may it all my powers engage to do my Master's will!
Truly Christ serves "the present age," whether that means His own day, Charles Wesley's day, or this day and age. May we follow His example, engaging all our powers to do God's will; not testing God's powers to do our will.
Lowell Mason (1792-1872), the composer of the music used for this week's featured hymn, was born and raised in America. Like Charles Wesley, Mason was a prolific writer, preparing more than 1,100 hymn tunes during his life. He came from a musical family, and several of his children followed in his musical tradition. His tunes and arrangements are used for fourteen hymns in the 1989 United Methodist Hymnal. It is said that the kind of declamation in which a musical measure contains two metrical feet, as in BOYLSTON, is considered to be a nineteenth-century approach, and is rare before Mason.