God Contracted to a Span: A Wesleyan Advent Hymn

Charles Wesley’s parents had 17 children before he came along. His premature birth was initially considered a still-birth because of his lack of vitality, a lack which continued through weeks of near silence.  There was no real reason for optimism.

But, Oh, how he made up for that later in life! He preached twice to crowds of more than 10,000 and once to a crowd of more than twice that size.  Most people would live their entire 17th-18th Century lives without even seeing a crowd of that size. Perhaps even more notably, though, Charles wrote 56 books of hymns over a 53 year span, totaling more than 5,000 hymns.

I am no Wesleyan, to be sure, but I agree with his brother John in that those hymns are a treasure of profound theology.

In this season of Advent I give you the first three stanzas of a somewhat obscure incarnational hymn by Charles Wesley, Let Earth and Heaven Combine:

Let earth and heaven combine,
Angels and men agree,
To praise in songs divine,
The incarnate Deity,
Our God contracted to a span,
Incomprehensibly made man.

He laid His glory by,
He wrapped Him in our clay;
Unmarked by human eye,
The latent Godhead lay;
Infant of days He here became,
And bore the mild Immanuel’s Name.

Unsearchable the love
That hath the Savior brought;
The grace is far above
Or man or angel’s through:
Suffice for us that God, we know,
Our God, is manifest below.

Meter: 66.66.88 (“Hallelujah Meter”)

Merry Christmas.