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Friday, September 21, 2018

Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

 “For Christ’s love compels us,
because we are convinced
that one died for all,
and therefore all died.
And he died for all,
that those who live should
no longer live for themselves
but for him who died for them
and was raised again.”
(2 Corinthians 5:14-15)

Charles Wesley (1707-1788) is best known for writing hymns. But this was no ordinary hymn writer—some sources account that the man wrote just under 9,000 hymns in his lifetime! Others say no less than 6,500. Many go so far to say he was the greatest hymn writer of all time, and it is hard to argue with that statement based on sheer volume of his poetic text (not to mention, the theological depth of his hymns). Youngest of 18 children, he is also well known because of his brother, John Wesley, the preacher who founded the Methodist movement in Christianity. Together, they were a force to be reckoned with—Kingdom movers with zeal for Christ and for sharing the gospel of grace. Charles’s hymns were catalysts for the movement, going hand-in-hand with John’s sermons and pamphlets. A scholar indeed, Charles was an Oxford man and had a brilliant mind, but he coupled that mind with his devotion to Christianity, and formed the “Holy Club” there at Oxford.

The history behind this brotherly evangelistic duo is surprising, though. An interesting turn of events led Charles and John to re-think their faith, when they were missionaries in Georgia in 1735, facing persecution…The Moravians who were traveling with them by ship pointed them to a deeper intimacy with Christ, a joy and hope like they had never known, and an emphasis on worship through hymn singing. Charles soon met Christ in a whole new personal way. His “religious” life that he knew before was not enough. He came to discover that duty and discipline could not earn his salvation. He had been singularly focused on sharing the gospel, yet he hadn’t actually grasped the gospel himself! He was devoted, but he lacked relationship with Jesus; he lacked simple faith. He surrendered to Christ anew and began his true journey with Jesus in 1738, three years after he had gone to Georgia. Psalm 40:3 launched his new ministry, “He hath put a new song in my mouth; many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord.” That was the spark that led aflame this man’s heart for worship through song. The vast evangelical revival of the 1700s was marked by hymns, which communicated beautifully authentic joy found in Christ as well as deep Scriptural truths. 

I personally fell in love with Charles’s hymn, “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling,” a few years ago while reading A. W. Tozer’s book Experiencing the Presence of God: Teachings from the Book of Hebrews (which I highly recommend and need to re-read myself!). I’ve always loved many other Wesley hymns (“And Can it Be,” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing,” to mention a few of his best known…) I was not as familiar with “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling,” and to be honest, I couldn’t remember the typical tune that was paired with that one when I read the lyrics in Tozer’s book a the end of chapter 2, which was a reflective teaching on Hebrews 2. The words just caught my attention and I couldn’t stop reading them and pondering the beauty of them. I folded the bottom corner of the page and told myself I needed to come back and write a melody to go with those glorious verses…and I eventually did just that! The very first time I sang this song in public was on Sunday, February 1, 2015. It was during a typical Sunday morning worship service at my home church in Delaware, but this was no ordinary Sunday…it was 18 days before my brain surgery, to be exact. I had been waiting almost 8 months for surgery to remove a life-threatening brain tumor, and I knew my miracle was around the corner, only two-and-a-half weeks away. That Love Divine was about to carry me through like never before. I had to trust in Jesus like never before, putting all my hope and confidence in Him and His eternal plan. 

What is holding you down, today, my friend? A burden of fear? A weight of sin? A past of pain? Lift your eyes, look to the Heavens, and let His Love, which excels all else—love which is perfect, divine, and holy—be that which carries you on and creates in you a new hope. Allow Him to change your heart from glory into glory. Allow Jesus to shower you with compassion and love like you’ve never known before. Allow the joy of Heaven to take you captive. Allow His mercies to crown you with loving-kindness. Allow the King of Glory to create in you a new heart. Allow Christ to work His salvation in you and give you the gift of grace. Allow the Lord to lead you into wonder, love, and praise, so deep that you will be completely lost in His presence and totally in awe of His holiness.
Love divine, all loves excelling
Joy of heaven, to earth come down
Fix in us Thy humble dwelling;
All Thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, Thou art all compassion,
Pure, unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation,
Enter every trembling heart.

Breathe, oh, breathe Thy Holy Spirit
Into every troubled breast;
Let us all Thy grace inherit;
Let us find Thy promised rest;
Take away the love of sinning;
Take our load of guilt away;
End the work of Thy beginning;
Bring us to eternal day.

Love come down,
Love come down,
And set this heart on fire.

Glory rise,
Glory rise,
All eyes are fixed on Christ.

Carry on Thy new creation;
Pure and holy may we be;
Let us see our whole salvation
Perfectly secured by Thee;
Change from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before Thee
Lost in wonder, love, and praise.
Lost in wonder, love, and praise!


“Charles Wesley: Greatest Hymn Writer of All Time.”

Tuesday, September 4, 2018


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Dear Friends,

It is with great joy that I await the release of my newest album, Hallelujah: A Collection of Hymns. When I recorded this album, I recorded it for you. I may not know your story, but God knows your story. These hymns, dating back hundreds, even thousands of years (yes, one that is on the album dates back to the 4th century A.D.!), tell God's story so very well. They tell the good news that we are not alone, we are not forgotten, we have a Rescuer, a Redeemer, and a Lover of our souls Who is holy and good beyond measure. These hymns weave together Truth, Beauty, and Mystery. They are anchored in the promises of Scripture and the stories of saints who have gone before...saints who were sinners just like you and me, who found their one and only hope in the Savior, Jesus Christ.

What a great honor it has been to create arrangements of these beloved texts and tunes, with the goal of preserving their message and timeless wonder. I pray that the 14 tracks on this album will inspire prayer, kindle worship, and remind your soul of the true peace that passes understanding. I pray that you find courage to tell your story, strength to sing your song, and grace to look to Jesus in all things. May we find ourselves continually in awe of the Holy Triune God we worship, giving glory to His Name evermore.

Thank you beyond words for your prayers and support for this album. I hope that this special pre-release is an opportunity for you to give this hymns CD away to someone who needs a reminder of hope. It's also a way that I want to show my gratitude to you, my friend and listener!

Lastly, keep those stories coming in about your favorite hymns and why they mean so much to you! I realize there are hundreds of hymns out there that are treasured and so meaningful to many of you, but I hope you find one or two of your favorites on Hallelujah: A Collection of Hymns!

In Hope,
Caitlin Jane