Home History of Hymns: "Maker, In Whom We Live"

History of Hymns: "Maker, In Whom We Live"

"Maker, In Whom We Live"
Charles Wesley
The United Methodist Hymnal, No. 88

Charles Wesley

Maker, in whom we live,
In whom we are and move,
The glory, power, and praise receive
For Thy creating love.
Let all the angel throng
Give thanks to God on high,
While earth repeats the joyful song
And echoes to the sky.

By Haley Heffley
Special Contributor

"Maker, in whom we live" is well-known in the Methodist tradition. The text was written by Charles Wesley in 1747.

Originally, Wesley titled the hymn "To the Trinity" and published it in the Hymns for Those that Seek and Those that Have Redemption in the Blood of Jesus Christ in 1747.

Wesley was one of the first to incorporate the idea of the Trinity in hymns and poetry. In each stanza, he described a member of the Trinity, with the final stanza focusing on God, the Three-in-One. The hymn entered the Methodist hymnal in 1821. It was omitted in the 1905 and 1935 editions but returned in 1966.

"Maker, In Whom We Live" first appeared in the 1822 hymnal titled A Collection of Hymns for the Use of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The hymn, for the most part, remains in its entirety in today's modern hymnal. Despite some minor alterations in grammatical structure, there are really only two significant changes to the text.

The principal changes were made in order to make the hymn's language more inclusive, avoiding male-only imagery for God. The original version begins with "Father" instead of "Maker." In the last stanza, Wesley originally wrote, "Let all the sons of men," which has now been changed to "Let all on earth below."

Each stanza in this hymn describes a member of the Trinity. The first stanza discusses angels and earth giving praise and singing to God, the Maker and Creator. The second stanza expresses praise to God the Son, who gives redeeming grace to all, even sinners. The third stanza conveys God as the Holy Spirit, with all energy and power, and expresses how we cannot explain God's love for us. The last stanza invites all to sing and praise God the Three-in-One.

The first three stanzas have strong scriptural references. The first stanza refers to Acts 17:28 and Luke 2:14. The second stanza recalls Revelation 7:10 and the third stanza alludes to Titus 3:5.

The tune most commonly associated to this hymn is DIADEMATA, composed by George J. Elvey, during the Romantic Era, in 1868. In the 1878 hymnal, this hymn was paired with the tune WAUGH, and only contained the first two stanzas. Both in the original form and in today's modern hymnal, the text is set in the familiar four-part style. The tune works well with the text, complimenting the rise and fall of the lines.

Surprisingly enough, despite the long history of this hymn, it resonates with congregations today. It has found a permanent place in our liturgy. This hymn is sung at a variety of times during the Christian year. But it works particularly well with Trinity Sunday because it addresses each member of the Trinity. It could be used as an opening hymn, setting the focus of the service, or as a closing hymn, summing up the service. Wesley has succeeded in writing a hymn that both nourishes and reminds us of God's greatness and unconditional love.

Ms. Heffley is a participant in the church music colloquium at Perkins School of Theology and a student of Dr. Michael Hawn.