Wrestling Jacob

by Richard on August 29, 2004

COME, O thou Traveller unknown,
Whom still I hold, but cannot see!
My company before is gone,
And I am left alone with thee;
With thee all night I mean to stay,
And wrestle till the break of day.

I need not tell thee who I am,
My misery and sin declare;
Thyself hast called me by my name,
Look on thy hands, and read it there;
But who, I ask thee, who art Thou?
Tell me Thy name, and tell me now.

In vain thou strugglest to get free,
I never will unloose my hold!
Art thou the Man that died for me?
The secret of thy love unfold;
Wrestling, I will not let thee go,
Till I thy name, thy nature know.

Wilt thou not yet to me reveal
Thy new, unutterable name?
Tell me, I still beseech thee, tell;
To know it now resolved I am;
Wrestling, I will not let thee go,
Till I thy name, thy nature know.

What though my shrinking flesh complain,
And murmur to contend so long?
I rise superior to my pain,
When I am weak, then I am strong
And when my all of strength shall fail,
I shall with the God-man prevail.

                              Charles Wesley

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }


david 08.29.04 at 3:01 pm

This is one of my very favorite hymns. In the UMC, we sing it to CANDLER.


Richard 08.29.04 at 6:10 pm

I don’t think I’ve ever sung it. It’s set to “Wrestling Jacob” (written by SS Wesley) or “David’s Harp”, which I think is the tune for which it was written. And it has 12 verses in our hymnbook! (That might explain why we don’t sing it)


Dwight Gregory 07.31.06 at 3:26 am

I believe this hymn originally had fifteen or more verses. In a history of the Free Methodist Church of North American, Bishiop Leslie Marston commented that each successive edition of the denominational hymnal contained a smaller number of verses for this hymn. I taught it to a Sunday School Class today, folowing a study of the story of Jacob and the ‘angel’ wrestling, in Genesis 32. I used my own abridged version, with what I considered the six verses most relevant. Unfortuantely, on short notice I could not find ANY hymnal with the tune so had to teach it from memory. I love the song and its symbolism. It goes without saying that with a modern audience, I changed the phrase “to me, to all, thy bowels move” to ” . . . thy mercies move,” as I remember it from the 1951 Free Methodist Hymnal of my childhood.


Richard 07.31.06 at 10:41 am

It originally had 14 verses, Dwight, but the original verses 5 and 7 were being omitted as early as 1780. In the hymnbook “A collection of Hymns For the Use of the People Called Methodist” it appeared in 2 parts. The 5 verses I gave above were no. 140, the second part was no 141. Here it is:

1 YIELD to me now, for I am weak,
But confident in self-despair;
Speak to my heart, in blessings speak,
Be conquered by my instant prayer;
Speak, or thou never hence shalt move,
And tell me if thy name is Love.

2 ‘Tis Love! ’tis Love! thou diedst for me!
I hear thy whisper in my heart;
The morning breaks, the shadows flee,
Pure, universal love thou art;
To me, to all, thy bowels move;
Thy nature and thy name is Love.

3 My prayer hath power with God; the grace
Unspeakable I now receive;
Through faith I see thee face to face,
I see thee face to face, and live!
In vain I have not wept and strove;
Thy nature and thy name is Love.

4 I know thee, Saviour, who thou art.
Jesus, the feeble sinner’s friend;
Nor wilt thou with the night depart.
But stay and love me to the end,
Thy mercies never shall remove;
Thy nature and thy name is Love.

5 The Sun of righteousness on me
Hath rose with healing in his wings,
Withered my nature’s strength; from thee
My soul its life and succour brings;
My help is all laid up above;
Thy nature and thy name is Love.

6 Contented now upon my thigh
I halt, till life’s short journey end;
All helplessness, all weakness, I
On thee alone for strength depend,
Nor have I power from thee to move;
Thy nature and thy name is Love.

7 Lame as I am, I take the prey,
Hell, earth, and sin, with ease o’ercome;
I leap for joy, pursue my way,
And as a bounding hart fly home,
Through all eternity to prove
Thy nature and thy name is Love.

I can’t find the text of the ‘missing 2 verses, but if you know them I’d be glad to have them.
Hope your Sunday school class enjoyed it! Children or adults?

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