O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing was used in a recent worship service I attended. It was one of the more than six thousand hymns written by Charles Wesley and was originally titled “For the Anniversary of One’s Conversion.” Part of any conversion experience is the realization that we are sinners, and we can’t stop sinning. The only remedy is a Savior, and Wesley recognizes and proclaims that truth in this well known hymn.
In May 1738, Charles Wesley was suffering from pleurisy, and during this time he was plagued with doubts about his faith. On May 21st, he attend a Bible study where he listened to a number of testimonies. He was deeply moved by this experience and considered it to be the moment that he turned to Christ.
Eleven years later, he wrote a 18 stanza poem about his conversion. It is thought to be inspired by Peter Bohler, an influential Moravian leader, who said “Had I a thousand tongues, I would praise Christ Jesus with all of them.”
For more hymns by Charles Wesley see these posts: