I enjoy reading the Writer’s Almanac. Each day Garrison Keillor publishes a poem and describes several historical figures or events related to the date. I’ve learned a lot of very interesting tidbits about authors and such, and have found many wonderful poems to love through this avenue.
At the website there is a link so you can listen to Garrison read the poem and tell about the historical events. I find his voice very soothing and expressive.
Today, Keillor tells of the influence singing Moravians had on a young Charles Wesley during a long Atlantic crossing back in the early 1700s. (Today’s poem is “The Journey” by Mary Oliver, which I instantly added to my “poems that speak to me” list.)
Here is a portion of the Wesley story featured in today’s Writer’s Alamanac for December 18, 2013 by Garrison Keillor:
Charles Wesley was on a ship traveling from the colony of Georgia back to England. Many of his fellow passengers were German Moravians, and they constantly sang hymns together. This was a radical idea — the Anglican Church had beautiful choirs, but the congregation never joined in. When he returned to England, Wesley began to write hymns that could be sung by congregations, and it became his life’s work. He sometimes wrote a hymn every day, using popular songs for the tunes. The Wesley brothers traveled around England, preaching in the open air, and Charles continued to write on the road. By the time of his death at the age of 80, he had published more than 4,500 hymns, and left thousands more in manuscript form.
His hymns include “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending,” “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today,” and “Jesu, Lover of My Soul,” in which he wrote:
“Other refuge have I none;
Hangs my helpless soul on thee;
Leave, ah! leave me not alone,
Still support and comfort me.
All my trust on thee is stayed,
All my help from thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head
With the shadow of thy wing.”
- Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (majestichymns.wordpress.com)
- The Lost Verses of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” (jasonpkees.wordpress.com)
- Joy to the World – Christmas & Carols (abeyandrews.wordpress.com)
- The Twelve Songs of Christmas: Surprising Secrets of the Season’s Most Popular Tunes (guitarmusicradio.wordpress.com)