Notes from Hymns on the Lord’s Supper written by John and Charles Wesley. First published in Bristol, England in 1745 by Felix Farley. Copyright 1995, The Charles Wesley Society, Madison.
Hymns of the Lord’s Supper were written for three purposes: (Wainwright, Introduction, xii). 1). Catechetical 2). Liturgical 3). Devotional
As the number of new Christians grew in response to the imperial adoption of Christianity, they ceased to receive communion as often as before. John and Charles Wesley, however, made a point of serving communion every Sunday and holidays and John did so while visiting the sick (Wainwright, v).
In writing the hymns John Wesley taught people the significance and benefits of the Lord’s Supper. The songs contributed to the singing repertoire during communion; as well as provided a resource for meditative preparation before, and recollection after, the sacrament (Wainwright, vi).
In writing the preface to the hymn book, John Wesley extracted material from Daniel Brevint’s treatise On the Christian Sacrament and Sacrifice (1672) which he and Charles studied and applied in their hymn writing. Shared common motifs include using Old Testaments figures and events as foreshadowing the work of Christ and Christian sacraments and a Eucharistic reference to blood and water flowing from Christ’s side while on the cross. The blood was intended for justification and the water for sanctification (Wainwright, x-xi).
Brevint’s thoughts about the Lord’s Supper: 1). a sacrament to past suffering – a memorial 2). a way to convey the ‘first fruits’ of that suffering – grace 3). an assurance of glory to come – a pledge