Charles Wesley wrote a grand hymn of praise that expresses Christian affirmation for the love that comes from Christ. “Love divine, all loves excelling, joy of heaven to earth come down; fix in us thy humble dwelling, all thy faithful mercies crown.”
In the last phrase of the first verse, Wesley identifies the source of Christian love as being in Christ. “Visit us with thy salvation, enter every trembling heart.” In the second verse, Wesley penned an invitation that Christ would breathe His Holy Spirit into every troubled breast.
When Charles Wesley wrote the text for this great church hymn in 1747, my Yoder ancestors had just arrived in colonial Pennsylvania five years earlier. With the promise of Christ’s Spirit in our hearts, Wesley’s hymn conveys hope and courage to travelers and immigrants, like the Yoders and many other immigrants who sailed for Pennsylvania in the eighteenth century.
At my wedding in a small church over forty years ago, my wife and I chose “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” as one of the congregational hymns to be sung by everyone in attendance. We sang in Charles Wesley’s English language, though many of the ancestors of those who attended our wedding spoke German when their ships arrived in the 1700s. In a flourish with the last verse, Wesley invites Love Divine to finish his new creation, true and spotless, changed from glory into glory, lost in wonder, love, and praise.
One of the lasting songs from the Jesus Music era of the 1970s is Cast Down Your Cares, written in 1977 by John Michael Talbot. This song is a simple guitar tune from the 1970s decade of musical change for the church and contemporary Christian music. Cast Down Your Cares continues to inspire and speak today.
Talbot’s lyrics encourage us to lay down our cares, to cast all our cares upon Him who loves us. Talbot encouraged us to take up the cross and so bring light to the nations. We must go, the refrain soars, as a light to the nations, take up the cross and follow where he leads. We must go as a light to the nations, prepared to wear a crown of thorns to bring his peace.
Several years after Talbot wrote Cast Down Your Cares, my wife and I recorded the song in a small studio located in a friend’s home. During the Covid era, I moved the music from a CD to the digital realm and made it more accessible. May we go as a light to the nations and follow where He leads. I hope the tune inspires you as it has me.