Posted by: rcottrill | February 1, 2012

Arise, My Soul, Arise

Words: Charles Wesley (b. Dec. 18, 1707; d. Mar. 29, 1788)
Music: Lenox, by Lewis Edson (b. Jan. 22, 1748; d. _____, 1820)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

NOTE: The Cyber Hymnal’s version of this hymn repeats the third line of each stanza. However, most hymnals I’ve seen repeat the last. It gives special emphasis to that climactic line each time, and works better in my view. Some hymn books use another tune, referred to as an “Old Norman Melody.” However, since it has no name, and no author, it’s hard to identify for you. The hymnals Living Hymns, Great Hymns of the Faith, and the Worship and Service Hymnal, all make use of it. For a beautiful choral arrangement of this hymn, see YouTube.

Called originally “Behold the Man,” this is one of Wesley’s most powerful hymns. It’s unfortunate that it’s not as well known in some circles as some of his other offerings. A number of stories are told of how the singing of this hymn brought many to understand and embrace God’s great salvation. I encourage you to sing this hymn, and sing all the stanzas. It’s possible to skip those of some songs, but here the impact builds throughout. You may have chills running up and down your spine by the time you get to, “‘Father, Abba, Father,’ cry”!

John Lawson, in his book The Wesley Hymns (Francis Asbury Press, 1987) lists numerous Scriptures beside each line of this hymn (pp. 62-63), showing that phrase after phrase, and truth upon truth are drawn from the Word of God. Central to the message of the hymn is the present high priestly ministry Christ, seated at the Father’s right hand.

CH-1) Arise, my soul, arise; shake off thy guilty fears;
The bleeding Sacrifice in my behalf appears:
Before the throne my Surety stands,
My name is written on His hands.
My name is written on His hands.

When we put our faith in Christ, we have no need to fear God’s condemnation. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who [characteristically] do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1) We have “an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (I Jn. 2:1). “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us” (Rom. 8:34). “He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25).

CH-4) The Father hears Him pray, His dear anointed One;
He cannot turn away, the presence of His Son;
His Spirit answers to the blood,
And tells me I am born of God.
And tells me I am born of God.

The child of God has the witness of the indwelling Holy Spirit within, enabling him to address God as his heavenly Father (Rom. 8:15). “Abba” is an Aramaic word for which there is no precise parallel in English. It’s a warmly affectionate and intimate term, meaning something like dearest Father, my own dear Father. It shows the complete trust and confidence of a child whose father loves him and would never do him harm or turn him away (cf. Heb. 4:14-16).

CH-5) My God is reconciled; His pardoning voice I hear;
He owns me for His child; I can no longer fear:
With confidence I now draw nigh,
And “Father, Abba, Father,” cry.
And “Father, Abba, Father,” cry.

1) If a Christian has the kind of intimacy with God Charles Wesley describes, how will it be reflected in his or her daily life?

2) Hebrews 4:16 encourages the child of God to come “boldly” before God’s throne (in prayer) to seek the Lord’s help. What is the wrong kind of boldness to have before God? What do you think is meant by the boldness Hebrews speaks of?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


  1. Thanks for stopping by my blog today! I’ve recently moved to attend seminary, so my time is crunched with greek verbs and writings of old dead guys so I’m not able to regularly post on the site right now. I hope to be more active this summer.

    Even if you don’t like indelible grace’s tunes to old hymns, at least we can share a love for an old lyric that expresses praise, honor and worship to our wonderful creator and sustainer…

    • H-m-m… Agreed that we can share for the message of the great hymns of the faith. I do, every day, as I work with them, and they often bless my socks off. 🙂 However, the music of our hymns is intended to provide an appropriate frame for which the text is the picture. To frame superb words with carnal bedlam that appeals to the flesh does not enhance their message; it detracts from it by drawing inordinate attention to itself. I’m not against instrumental accompaniment, if it truly accompanies, and doesn’t dominate the experience.

      Having said that, I must add that some of the most blessed and glorious hymn-singing in which I’ve ever participated has been unaccompanied. We’re able to hear one another, and it becomes a true fellowship in song. Parts-singing enhances the melody in that shared experience, and the message of the text seems to come through naturally, and often powerfully.

      One quick example that I came across on YouTube. Don’t know the group. They seem to be a mix of ages, but mostly youth and young adults. There is accompaniment at the beginning, but it seems to drop out somewhere along the way. It also interested me that the accompanists were behind the congregation. In that way they’d be less of a distraction. Too many “worship teams” give the impression that “it’s all about us.” Anyway, just a personal opinion: I find this soul-stirring.

      God bless.

  2. Robert, I agree completely with your thoughts here.

    And this video — what a wonderful church, where *everyone* is singing! “The Son of God Goes Forth to War” is not a well-known hymn, because its theme (martyrdom) is so daunting. I have never heard the tune they are using, but apparently they know it well.

    • Thank you so much for your encouraging note. I’m really struggling this morning–health problems, and work load, and so on. It was so good to “hear” a friendly voice.

      I agree, it’s wonderful to hear a congregation really sing! I’ve had the experience of being part of such groups a few times in my life, and I treasure the memory. The trend seems to be for some band to make lots of noise on the platform, while the people of God mumble along–often trying valantly to sing tuneless songs with repetitious words, and metres that don’t scan properly! There now! You can tell I’m in a rather negative mood! Better leave well enough alone, before I say something really controversial! 🙂

  3. […] have grown out of nearly fifty years of studying the Word of God, and the music of the church. On February 1st I published some thoughts on Charles Wesley’s great hymn Arise, My Soul, Arise. One individual […]

  4. lists that “Old Norman Melody” as Towner because it was harmonized by Danile B. Towner in 1909. But maybe you already knew that.

    • Yes, I do indeed know that. But there’s also another tune named Towner, here, and I was trying to avoid further confusion! I do wish the tune I mentioned had a more precise identification, as it’s a fine one, with a good refrain.

  5. Oh, and that video–Cornerstone Reformed Church in Carbondale. Check out their other YouTube videos or their website Looks like a fun church to attend. Too bad I don’t live in Carbondale.


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