Home  »  Lyra Sacra: A Book of Religious Verse  »  Wrestling with the Angel

Henry Charles Beeching, ed. (1859–1919). Lyra Sacra: A Book of Religious Verse. 1903.

By Charles Wesley (1707–1788)

Wrestling with the Angel

COME, 1 O Thou Traveller unknown,
  Whom still I hold, but cannot see,
My company before is gone,
  And I am left alone with Thee;
With Thee all night I mean to stay,        5
And wrestle till the break of day.
I need not tell Thee who I am,
  My misery or sin declare;
Thyself hast call’d me by my name;
  Look on Thy hands and read it there!        10
But who, I ask Thee, who art Thou?
Tell me Thy name, and tell me now.
In vain Thou strugglest to get free,
  I never will unloose my hold;
Art Thou the Man that died for me?        15
  The secret of Thy love unfold.
Wrestling, I will not let Thee go,
Till I Thy Name, Thy Nature know.
Wilt Thou not yet to me reveal
  Thy new, unutterable Name?        20
Tell me, I still beseech Thee, tell:
  To know it now resolved I am:
Wrestling, I will not let Thee go,
Till I Thy Name, Thy Nature know.
What though my shrinking flesh complain,        25
  And murmur to contend so long?
I rise superior to my pain;
  When I am weak, then I am strong:
And when my all of strength shall fail,
I shall with the God-Man prevail.        30
My strength is gone; my nature dies;
  I sink beneath Thy weighty hand;
Faint to revive, and fall to rise;
  I fall, and yet by faith I stand:
I stand, and will not let Thee go,        35
Till I Thy Name, Thy Nature know.
Yield to me now, for I am weak,
  But confident in self-despair;
Speak to my heart, in blessings speak,
  Be conquer’d by my instant prayer!        40
Speak, or Thou never hence shalt move,
And tell me, if Thy Name is Love?
’Tis Love! ’tis Love! Thou died’st for me
  I hear Thy whisper in my heart!
The morning breaks, the shadows flee;        45
  Pure universal Love Thou art!
To me, to all, Thy bowels move;
Thy Nature and Thy Name is Love!
My prayer hath power with God; the grace
  Unspeakable I now receive;        50
Through faith I see Thee face to face,
  I see Thee face to face, and live:
In vain I have not wept and strove;
Thy Nature and Thy Name is Love.
I know Thee, Saviour, Who Thou art;        55
  Jesus, the feeble sinner’s Friend!
Nor wilt Thou with the night depart,
  But stay, and love me to the end!
Thy mercies never shall remove—
Thy Nature and Thy Name is Love!        60
The Sun of Righteousness on me
  Hath rose, with healing in His wings;
Wither’d my nature’s strength, from Thee
  My soul its life and succour brings;
My help is all laid up above;        65
Thy Nature and Thy Name is Love.
Contented now upon my thigh
  I halt, till life’s short journey end;
All helplessness, all weakness, I
  On thee alone for strength depend;        70
Nor have I power from thee to move;
Thy Nature and Thy Name is Love.
Note 1. Charles Wesley wrote in his lifetime over 6000 hymns for the Methodist Society, to form “a body of experimental and practical divinity.” Among these, “Jesu, lover of my soul,” is by far the best, and in its own kind may claim to be the best hymn in the language. Others almost equally popular are his Christmas hymn, “Hark, how all the welkin rings,” and “Come, let us join our friends above,” which, however, usually appear in modern hymnals as “Hark, the herald angels sing,” and “Let saints on earth in concert sing.”
  The poem on “Wrestling Jacob,” here given, was said by Watts to be “worth all the verses which he had ever written.” [back]