Wesleyan sinner songs

One of the things I most appreciate about the Wesley hymn tradition is the honest, compassionate call to “sinners” and really wrestling with one’s approach to God (as in, for example, the wonderful “Wretched, helpless and distrest”).

It is interesting to just search for “sinner” in the first line of the index to an old Methodist hymnal. For example, from an online 1889 hymnal, one finds:

1 COME, sinners, to the gospel feast,
1 SINNERS, turn, why will ye die?
1 SINNERS, obey the gospel-word!
1 COME, ye weary sinners, come,
1 SEE, sinners, in the gospel glass,
1 SINNERS, believe the gospel word,
1 WOULD Jesus have the sinner die?
1 SINNERS, your hearts lift up,
1 HOW can a sinner know
1 JESU, friend of sinners, hear,
1 JESU, the sinner’s friend, to thee,
1 THEE, Jesu, thee, the sinner’s friend,
1 LAMB of God, for sinners slain,
1 HOW shall a lost sinner in pain
1 YE ransomed sinners, hear,
1 HE dies! the friend of sinners dies!
1 SINNERS, rejoice: your peace is made;
1 SINNERS, lift vp your hearts,
1 COME, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
1 JESUS, the needy sinner’s friend,
1 O HOW shall a sinner perform

(From A Collection of Hymns, 1889)

The hymn “Wretched, helpless, and distrest” is in the distinctive Wesleyan meter of 76767776 for which the most well known tune is perhaps Amsterdam, also the tune for Praise the Lord Who Reigns Above:

1 WRETCHED, helpless, and distrest,
Ah! whither shall I fly?
Ever gasping after rest,
I cannot find it nigh:
Naked, sick, and poor, and blind,
Fast bound in sin and misery,
Friend of sinners, let me find
My help, my all, in thee!

2 I am all unclean, unclean,
Thy purity I want;
My whole heart is sick of sin,
And my whole head is faint;
Full of putrefying sores,
Of bruises, and of wounds, my soul
Looks to Jesus, help implores,
And gasps to be made whole.

3 In the wilderness I stray,
My foolish heart is blind,
Nothing do I know; the way
Of peace I cannot find:
Jesu, Lord, restore my sight,
And take, O take, the veil away!
Turn my darkness into light,
My midnight into day.

4 Naked of thine image, Lord,
Forsaken, and alone,
Unrenewed, and unrestored,
I have not thee put on;
Over me thy mantle spread,
Send down thy likeness from above,
Let thy goodness be displayed,
And wrap me in thy love.

5 Poor, alas! thou know’st I am,
And would be poorer still,
See my nakedness and shame,
And all my vileness feel;
No good thing in me resides,
My soul is all an aching void
Till thy Spirit here abides,
And I am filled with God.

6 Jesus, full of truth and grace,
In thee is all I want;
Be the wanderer’s resting-place,
A cordial to the faint;
Make me rich, for I am poor;
In thee may I my Eden find;
To the dying health restore.
And eye-sight to the blind.

7 Clothe me with thy holiness,
Thy meek humility;
Put on me my glorious dress,
Endue my soul with thee;
Let thine image be restored,
Thy name and nature let me prove,
With thy fulness fill me, Lord.
And perfect me in love.

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