Hymn of the week: Father of Jesus Christ – my Lord

One of Charles Wesley’s early hymns, ‘Father of Jesus Christ’ was originally published in Hymns and Sacred Poems (1742) with twenty verses. This was reduced to eleven verses in the 1780 Collection; modern hymnals have reduced it further to five or six. (British and American hymnals have a slightly different selection of verses.)

Headed ‘Romans iv. 16 &c’, the hymn is inspired by Paul’s description of Abraham as an exemplar of faith. We are also reminded of the story of Abraham falling on his face with laughter at the news that he and Sarah, despite their advanced age, are to have a son:

Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees,
And looks to that alone;
Laughs at impossibilities,
And cries, “It shall be done!”

Note Charles Wesley’s characteristic qualification of faith as ‘obedient faith’.

Abraham is the focus of the first two readings on Sunday, which are Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16 and Romans 4:13-25. The hymn works very well as the hymn following the epistle.

Father of Jesus Christ—my Lord,
My Saviour and my Head—
I trust in thee, whose powerful word
Has raised him from the dead.

Thou know’st for my offence he died,
And rose again for me,
Fully and freely justified
That I might live to thee.

Faith in thy power thou seest I have
For thou this faith hast wrought;
Dead souls thou callest from their grave
And speakest words from nought.

In hope, against all human hope,
Self-desperate, I believe;
Thy quickening word shall raise me up,
Thou shalt thy Spirit give.

Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees,
And looks to that alone;
Laughs at impossibilities,
And cries, ‘It shall be done!’

Obedient faith that waits on thee,
Thou never wilt reprove;
But thou wilt form thy Son in me,
And perfect me in love.

Charles Wesley (1707-1788)

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About Holloway Rev

Paul Weary is a Methodist minister living and working in Holloway, North London.
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