Wednesday, December 31, 2008


"Watch Night" was a religious celebration of New Year that began with the Moravians--a small European Christian sect of the 18th century who, among other things, emphasized the feminine aspects of God's character.

In the first decades of the 1700's, John Wesley began worshipping with Moravians, and his experiences with them inspired him to begin the movement now known as Methodism. Methodists took the Moravian traditon of "Watch Night" and made it a continuing part of Methodist tradition.(Just as Wesley had his first deeply felt religious experiences while attending Moravian worship services, so Joseph Smith--the First Mormon--has his first deeply felt religous experiences when in his mid-teens he began worshipping with Methodists in Palmyra, New York.)

"Watch Night" was celebrated on New Year's Eve, and it focused on the spiritual progress one made during the past year while encouraging one to recommit to personal spiritual growth in the coming year.

To celebrate "Watch Night," John Wesley's bother, Charles Wesley, composed a number of hymns. (Charles Wesley was one of world's greatest writers of hymns, and many of his hymns have become a traditional part of Mormon worship--appearing the hymnals of most Mormon denominations. Charles' most famous hymn is "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.")

The following hymn is one of Charles Wesley's "Watch Night" hymns. It is printed here in the spirit of the holiday season:

"Come, let us anew our journey pursue,
Roll round with the year,
And never stand still till the Master appear,
His adorable will let us gladly fulfill,
And our talents improve,
By the patience of hope, and the labor of love,
By the patience of hope, and the labor of love.

"Our life is a dream; our time, as a stream,
Glides swiftly away,
And the fugitive moment refuses to stay,
The arrow is flown, the moment is gone;
The millennial year
Rushes on to our view, and eternity's here,
Rushes on to our view, and eternity's here.

"O that each in the day of His coming may say,
'I have fought my way through;
I have finished the work Thou didst give me to do!'
O that each from his Lord may receive the glad word,'
Well and faithfully done!
Enter into My joy, and sit down on My throne!''
Enter into My joy, and sit down on My throne!' '

--Charles Wesley (Hymn 217 in the current LDS Hymnal)