Wednesday, March 5, 2008

lo, he comes with clouds descending

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 25

Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending
(United Methodist Hymnal #718)

Lo, he comes with clouds descending,
once for favored sinners slain;
thousand, thousand saints attending
swell the triumph of his train.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
God appears on earth to reign.

Every eye shall now behold him,
robed in dreadful majesty;
those who set at naught and sold him,
pierced and nailed him to the tree,
deeply wailing, deeply wailing, deeply wailing,
shall the true Messiah see.

The dear tokens of his passion
still his dazzling body bears;
cause of endless exultation
to his ransomed worshipers;
with what rapture, with what rapture, with what rapture,
gaze we on those glorious scars!

Yea, Amen! Let all adore thee,
high on thy eternal throne;
Savior, take the power and glory,
claim the kingdom for thine own.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Everlasting God, come down!

  • I love the phrase from verse 2, "dreadful majesty". I think there's danger of our relationship to Christ becoming either too "cuddly" or too distant. In the current environment, we probably should renew the use of phrases such as dreadful majesty to describe Christ.
  • This is a hymn about the second coming of Christ, and in verse 3, Wesley uses the term rapture. But he's not talking about the faithful being taken up into heaven. I wish I knew my history well enough to know if Charles was doing this on purpose, or if it's just a wonderfully ironic coincidence.

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