“Come, Let Us Anew”

"Thou crownest the year with Thy goodness; and Thy paths drop fatness" (Ps. 65.11)

     INTRO.: A hymn which was written especially for acknowledging the goodness of the Lord at the beginning of the year is "Come, Let Us Anew."  The text was written by Charles Wesley (1707-1788). It was first published under the title "The Changing Year" in his 1750 Hymns for New Year’s Day. The tune (Lucas) was composed by James Lucas. Very little is known about him. He is sometimes identified as a 18th century composer, but Cyberhymnal gives his birthdate as 1820. The 1935 Methodist Hymnal identifies the tune as an "early American melody" dated 1762. However, Robert G. McCutchan in Hymn Tune Names dates it at 1832.  If Lucas was born in 1820, it is highly unlikely that he produced this piece in 1832, and certainly not in 1762!.

     It could be that the composer Lucas lived actually earlier than 1820, or it could be that he merely arranged an already existing melody. The only other bit of information that I have been able to find out about him is that he is also credited with another tune (Swanwick) used with an anonymous paraphrase of Psalm 58 beginning "Do Ye, O Men, Speak Righteousness." Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "Come, Let Us Anew" appeared in the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenson; and the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater.

     The hymn reminds us how swiftly each year is propelling us on toward eternity.
I. Stanza 1 focuses on our journey
"Come, let us anew Our journey pursue–
Roll round with the year, And never stand still till the Master appear;
His adorable will Let us gladly fulfill, And our talents improve
By the patience of hope and the labor of love."
 A. When each year rolls round, we can pursue our journey through life anew because, like the Israelites going into Canaan, we can say that we have not passed this way before: Josh. 3.4
 B. During this journey, we must never stand still because we are to be always abounding in the work of the Lord: 1 Cor. 15.58
 C. Therefore, we should be striving to improve our talents by the patience of hope and the labor of love: 1 Thess. 1.3

II. Stanza 2 focuses on the passing of time
"Our life is a dream; Our time, as a stream,
Glides swiftly away, And the fugitive moment refuses to stay.
The arrow is flow, The moment is gone;
The millennial year Rushes onto our view and eternity’s here."
 A. To say that our life is a dream does not imply that it is unreal but that it is short: Job 20.8, Jas. 4.14
 B. Therefore, our time, as a stream, glides swiftly away and the fugitive moment refuses to stay: Ps. 90.9-12
 C. Some might object to the term "the millennial year;" it is doubtful if Wesley intended to mention anything related to "premillennialism" but simply used it as a reference to the time of the second coming of Christ in general, something for which all Christians are waiting: 1 Thess. 1.9-10

III. Stanza 3 focuses upon our hope
"O that each, in the day of His coming, may say,
‘I have fought my way through, I have finished the work Thou didst give me to do!’
O that each from his Lord May receive the glad word,
‘Well and faithfully done, Enter into my joy, and sit down on My throne.’"
 A. When the time of our journey ends and the Lord returns, our hope is to be able to say that we have fought the good fight: 2 Tim. 4.7
 B. And, like Jesus, we hope that we can say that we have finished the work that He gave us to do: Jn. 17.4
 C. In this way, we hope to hear Him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant; enter into My joy": Matt. 25.21

     CONCL.: The Bible does not authorize the church to celebrate special days, especially with religious observances. However, the Bible does take note of the passing of time (Gen. 1.14). When it is morning or evening, we may sing a hymn appropriate to that time of day. In the same way, when it is a new year, we may sing a hymn appropriate to that season. And at the beginning of the years, Christians should want to teach and admonishing one another concerning their journey in life, saying, "Come, Let Us Anew."


2 thoughts on ““Come, Let Us Anew”

  1. “Come, Let Us Anew” has a remarkably well nuanced set of lyrics involving biblical allusions and analogies which Charles Wesley aligned with the course of life. The thoughts, which are well matched by tune LUCAS, are especially poignant for New Year’s Day, birthdays, wedding anniversaries, etc.

    The theology undergirding the lyrics is thoroughly Arminian (freewill), as typified the Wesleys. Note the explicit sense in the lyrics that the road to salvation continues throughout life and is not assured until final approval by the Master.

    Such statements caused Calvinistic editors in the Wesleys’ own time to set upon the Wesleyan hymns with a vengeance, as those editors began seeing freewill doctrine and salvation by works lurking all over the place in them, including in phrases where the Wesley brothers themselves had no such intention. (Several versions of Charles Wesley’s “Love Divine,” for example, continue in circulation because of apprehensions and changes by editors.) So pervasive were the changes out there, that John Wesley, in the preface to the 2nd edition (1779) of the Methodist hymns, published a caveat requesting that the hymns be left exactly the way he and brother Charles had written them, “that we may no longer be accountable either for the nonsense or doggerel of other men” (meaning the Calvinist editors).

    “Come, Let Us Anew” fits well the scriptural orientation of Barton Warren Stone, Alexander Campbell, and others who in the 19th century contributed to the great and continuing movement of restoration toward the church of the New Testament. “He that endureth to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 10:22kjv).

    The use of the word “millennial” in the second verse is innocuous (except, of course, for anyone so traumatized by the word as to perceive something there which isn’t). Christians from all “millennial” persuasions have necessarily yet to arrive at “the millennial year” (whatever it is) when all fateful decisions will be rendered by the Righteous Judge.

    Too bad this excellent and moving hymn has ended up on the cutting-room floor of recent hymnals. Nonetheless, the hymn is in the public domain, and the score is available at http://www.hymnwiki.org/Come%2C_Let_Us_Anew_%28Wesley%29 .

  2. This is a beautiful hymn–both inspirational and motivating. Its words continually inspire me to faith, proper stewardship of time and management of God’s resources which he has entrusted to us.
    It was also Hymn 369 in the past CHURCH HYMNAL of the SDA church.


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