The Rich in Every Place and Age
Words: by Charles Wesley, 1762
Music: tune, VATER UNSER, from Geistliche Lieder, 1539
Harmonized by Johann Sebastian Bach, 1726
Scripture: James 2:6-7
Topics: wealth; rich; poor; power; judgment; social justice
This text by Charles Wesley was first published in his collection, Short Hymns on Select Passages of the Holy Scriptures, published in two volumes in 1762. The hymn was included in his volume two, page 381. It is based on the passages in James 2:6-7: "Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name, by the which ye are called?"
Martin Luther adapted this tune for his German translation of the Lord's Prayer, published in 1539. Wesley first heard it as it was sung by Moravians either in Georgia or on board the ship between England and Georgia. It was apparently one of his favorite tunes. He used it with ten hymns in his 1780 Collection of Hymns for Use of the People Called Methodists. J. S. Bach's harmonization comes from Cantata 102, Herr, deine Augen schen nach dem Glauben! (Source: Carlton Young, Companion to The United Methodist Hymnal, Abingdon Press, 1993)