Tuesday, February 26, 2008

forth in thy name, o lord

Each day of Lent I am publishing one of Charles Wesley's hymns or poems. In my experience, the selection of Charles Wesley's hymns that we actually use in worship is very small. This is sad, because his hymns are filled with deep theological truths and great beauty.

Use these as a part of your Lenten disciplines, and share any thoughts or reactions in the comments.

Lent Day 18

Forth in Thy Name, O Lord
(United Methodist Hymnal #438)

Forth in thy name, O Lord, I go,
my daily labor to pursue;
thee, only thee, resolved to know
in all I think or speak or do.

The task thy wisdom hath assigned,
O let me cheerfully fulfill;
in all my works thy presence find,
and prove thy good and perfect will.

For thee delightfully employ
what e'er thy bounteous grace hath given;
and run my course with even joy,
and closely walk with thee to heaven.


Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

I like this hymn, and yet the radical in me is troubled by it. I like the idea that we are all called by God to answer the Divine call in our lives, whether it's being an accountant or a prophet.

The radical - OK, I'll say it, the dying embers of my college-age Marxism - in me wonders about a faith that calls us to acquiesce to the status quo in our lives, without challenging all that oppresses us. Should we not work for justice and peace in our places of work, even in our homes, even if that threatens our jobs or our the equanimity of our home lives? What if the entire system is so compromised that "going forth" requires us to go forth and occupy the ramparts against the forces of tyranny and injustice?

Anyway, thought I'd toss that out there.

Rich Holton said...


I'm not sure what it is about this hymn that fans the embers of your "college-age Marxism." Could it be the first two stanzas of the second verse? "The task thy wisdom hath assigned, O let me cheerfully fulfill;"

I suppose it does evoke images of people going zombie-like about their daily chores--but I'm not sure that's the intent. For some, God assigns the task of "prophet," defined in fairly broad terms.

Even if your "job" is a corporate accountant, or a factory worker, or a telemarketer, God may be calling to you be a prophet in that place, which may put your job (or more) at risk.

In essence, I agree with you. The only place where I begin to hesitate is when you use military symbolism, "occupy the ramparts".

Here I hesitate, because my reading of scripture leaves me 98% convinced that violence is inconsistent with Christ's teaching and example. I know, Jesus cleansed the temple, perhaps "violently". So the word "violence" in inadequate to the task of capturing my intent.

So, the use of military symbolism always makes me squirm a bit. If intended only symbolically, fine. If more literally, then I would need to look very carefully at specific cases.