Friday, March 30, 2012

A hymn book and Susannah Wesley

An 1885 hymnal, The Epworth Hymnal, was lying on my husband’s study floor. (He collects hymnals.) I, for some reason, had never noticed it before. But within in it I found something of great interest to me, part of the history of women in ministry. The hymnal is a Methodist one and in the Preface is praise for the Wesley family.  There is information about the father, Samuel Wesley and about the two sons Charles and John. And there is this about Charles and John’s mother, Susannah Wesley:

However grand the work and its results [of the Wesley brothers], we must not forget that the beginnings and the most valuable preparations were at Epworth, where Samuel Wesley studied and prayed and served, and where Susannah Wesley trained her children, counseled her husband, instructed their parishioners, and walked with God.

Later in the Preface the author, J.H. Vincent writes:

The Committee appointed in pursuance of the action of the General Conference to prepare this book [the hymnal] has done well in calling it The Epworth Hymnal. Besides  a certain euphony in the title, there come with it reverent and grateful thoughts concerning the character of the services of the most excellent father of the Wesleys, and that modern Monica [Christian mother of Augustine] whose strength and loveliness, whose piety and scholarship, are so manifest in the sons whom generations honor. There come along with the title—The Epworth hymnal—memories of family prayer and family songs, of neighbors gathered by the devout Susannah on Sunday afternoons for special services of prayer, praise, and admonition, and meetings in Epworth church for the training of all people, old and young, to sing the songs of the sanctuary.

What a beautiful legacy.

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