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Feast of David Charles (September 2)   Leave a comment

07390v

Above:  General View, Carmarthen, Wales, Between 1890 and 1900

Print Created by the Detroit Publishing Company

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsc-07390

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DAVID CHARLES (OCTOBER 11, 1762-SEPTEMBER 2, 1834)

Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Minister and Hymn Writer

The Reverend Thomas Charles (1755-1814) was one of the leading figures of early Welsh Calvinistic Methodism, founded by George Whitefield (1714-1770) and Howell Harris (1717-1773) in 1743.  Thomas Charles, ordained by that denomination, proved instrumental in making Sunday School commonplace in it.

His younger brother, David Charles (1762-1834), was intelligent yet unable to attend Oxford (like Thomas) due to the cost of education to the family.  So David became an apprentice to a flax dresser and rope make at this hometown, Carmarthen, instead.  Thus he found his line of work for a number of years.  David, converted to Christianity in 1777 by reading sermons of Ralph Erskine (1685-1752), a Scottish Presbyterian minister, became a deacon of Water Street Church, Carmarthen, in 1788.  Twenty years later David began to preach.  The Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Church ordained him in 1811.

Our saint contributed much to his denomination.  He was partially responsible for establishing home missions and for writing the Church’s confession of faith.  And he opposed the leadership of the Reverend Nathaniel Rowland (1749-1831), a prideful and frequently drunk man who placed his ego before the good of others.  James Moffatt wrote of our saint:

Methodism in Wales owed much to his wisdom.  He was perhaps the greatest statesman of his time in Wales, discriminating in judgement and wise in counsel.

Handbook to The Church Hymnary (London, UK:  Oxford University Press, 1927, 295)

David spent the last six years of his life as an invalid, for he suffered a seizure in 1828.  One Abraham Morris wrote of the background of one of our saint’s hymns:

…his bodily frame was struck down by paralysis but his intellect was unimpaired.  His soul rebelled at the enforced inactivity placed upon him, and the hymn in a measure sings of a more promising day when his frailties would be explained to him.

–Quoted in James Moffatt, Handbook to The Church Hymnary, 208

That hymn follows:

From heavenly Jerusalem’s towers

The path through the desert they trace;

And every affliction they suffered

Redounds to the glory of grace;

Their look they cast back on the tempests,

On fears, on grim death and the grave,

Rejoicing that now they’re in safety,

Through Him that is mighty to save.

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And we, from the wilds of the desert,

Shall flee to the land of the blest;

Life’s tears shall be changed to rejoicing,

Its labourers and toil into rest:

There we shall find refuge eternal,

From sin, from affliction, from pain,

And in the sweet love of the Saviour,

A joy without end shall attain.

–Translated by Lewis Edwards (1809-1887)

Fortunately, David Charles was able to fulfill his vocation from God.  And, even though his final years were difficult, his life did bring glory to God.  I hope that our saint found an explanation for his frailties, for an answer would have been justifiable.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 10, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH (U.S.A.), 1983

THE FEAST OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA, 1925

THE FEAST OF SAINT EPHREM OF EDESSA, ROMAN CATHOLIC DEACON AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT LANDERICUS OF PARIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant David Charles,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Holy Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60