We are familiar with stories of Christians being persecuted by Roman emperors and representatives of particular religions. We are less aware of Christians being persecuted by other Christians. That, sadly, has too often been true. A recent example is the conflict between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland, but we could cite many other examples as well—too many.
The differences leading to Christians persecuting Christians are often more political than religious. That was certainly true for the Wesleys—John and Charles. They led a religious revival that shook up the religious establishment—something likely to attract hostility. Perhaps that was the reason that people accused them of trying to overthrow the king—of supporting a Pretender to the throne. Whatever the reason, the hostility was thick. On one occasion, a mob drug John down the street by his hair. They threw rocks to break up evangelistic meetings.
It was during this time of persecution that Charles Wesley wrote the hymn, “Ye Servants of God, Your Master Proclaim.” Wesley included this hymn in a pamphlet entitled “Hymns for Times of Trouble and Persecution.” In its original form, the hymn included verses not found in our hymnals today—verses having to do with faithfulness in the midst of persecution.
Wesley’s hymn also called for worship of the true king— the king of the universe—our master—our God. It is these verses that we find in our hymnal today. The amazing thing about these verses is their triumphant note:
“Then let us adore and give Him his right,
All glory and power, all wisdom and might,
All honor and blessing, with angels above,
And Thanks never ceasing, and infinite love.”
(NOTE: Check your hymnal before using the above verse. If your hymnal uses other words, use those words in your hymn story.)
— Copyright 2006, Richard Niell Donovan