O FOR A THOUSAND TONGUES
Charles Wesley, 1707–1788
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. (Psalm 150:6)
Soon after their graduation from Oxford University, John and Charles Wesley decided to sail to America, the new world, to try to minister to the rough colonists under General Oglethorpe in Georgia and to evangelize the Indians. The Wesleys soon became disillusioned with the situation there, however, and after a short time returned to England.
As they crossed the Atlantic, John and Charles were much impressed by a group of devout Moravians, who seemed to have such spiritual depth and vitality as well as genuine missionary zeal. After returning to London, the Wesleys met with a group of Moravians in the Aldersgate Hall. Here in May, 1738, both brothers had a spiritual “heart-warming experience,” realizing that even though they had been so zealous in religious activity, neither had ever personally known God’s forgiveness or real joy. From that time on their ministry displayed a new dimension of spiritual power.
“O for a Thousand Tongues” was written by Charles in 1749 on the 11th anniversary of his Aldersgate conversion experience. It was inspired by a chance remark of an influential Moravian leader named Peter Bohler, who expressed his spiritual joy in this way: “Oh, Brother Wesley, the Lord has done so much for my life. Had I a thousand tongues, I would praise Christ Jesus with every one of them!”
These words of personal testimony by Charles Wesley have provided a moving vehicle of worship for God’s people for more than two centuries:
O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise, the glories of my God and King, the triumphs of His grace.
My gracious Master and my God, assist me to proclaim, to spread thru all the earth abroad the honors of Thy name.
Jesus! the name that charms our fears, that bids our sorrows cease, ’tis music in the sinner’s ears; ’tis life and health and peace.
He breaks the pow’r of canceled sin; He sets the pris’ner free. His blood can make the foulest clean … His blood availed for me.
Hear Him, ye deaf, His praise, ye dumb, your loosened tongues employ; ye blind, behold your Savior come and leap ye lame, for joy.
Glory to God and praise and love be ever, ever giv’n by saints below and saints above … the Church in earth and heav’n.
For Today: Psalm 96:1–4; 103:1–4; 145:2, 3; Romans 14:17
Let this hymn be the desire of your heart as you sing this message—