The modern church has a complex relationship with hymns. Some branches sing them exclusively. Others have entirely given them up in favor of contemporary worship. Maybe you only sing hymns for Easter, Good Friday, Lent, Pentecost, or special occasions like weddings and funerals.

Beyond your own tradition, it’s important to recognize a historical standpoint. You might just find that denominations rooted in hundreds of years of liturgy might help inform your own opinions. One such tradition is the Wesleyan Church. Her founders, John and Charles Wesley, penned thousands of original hymns for use in various occasions.

For a distinctly Wesleyan perspective on hymns and other elements of Christian life, we can turn to the Wesley Study Bible. This resource was written by a panel of Bible scholars from the wider Wesleyan Methodist family. The following is a note on Col 3:16.

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

Colossians 3:16

Singing Hymns

The people of God are a people of song. Moses and Miriam sang following the Exodus; at the reign of God in the time to come, new songs will be sung. God is the recipient of these songs; yet God is also the one who provides and motivates the song. The Wesleys acknowledged the triune God as both the source of inspiration and the subject for the thousands of hymns they produced. Hymn singing has always been a part of methodist worship, whether with the family, in small groups, or in the congregation. Hymns convey our adoration, thanksgiving, and gratitude of God. They allow us to express to God our own condition: the depth of our longing after God, our petitions and prayers, our joys and triumphs, our lamentation and sorrow. Hymns and the exercise of singing can bring about, cultivate, and increase the necessary Christian virtues of faith, hope, and love.

The common practice of adapting hymns to modern audiences, such as Amazing Graze (My Chains are Gone), connects today’s Christians with those who have come before, emphasizing that we are all one body, even across generations.

Here is my favorite Wesleyan hymn, by Charles Wesley.

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel's strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.

For a modern arrangement of this hymn, I recommend this one by King’s Kaleidoscope.

Read on!

the Wesley study Bible hymns

The Wesley Study Bible appeals to those in and outside the Methodist tradition. Full of interesting notes, articles, and comments, this tool will enrich your study of the Bible. Add the Wesley Study Bible to your library today!


  1. I feel misled – you enticed me to read the article about hymns – then you require me to go to the store to get the rest of the story. Not very nice for a Christian ministry.

    • Michael Potter Reply

      Jim, sorry for the confusion. We included the full entry from the study Bible in this post. The bolded text was meant to be the answer to the question. We simply included the link to the book we used in case you wanted to get it for yourself 🙂

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