And are we yet alive,
and see each other’s face?
Glory and thanks to Jesus give
for his almighty grace!
Preserved by power divine
to full salvation here,
again in Jesus’ praise we join,
and in his sight appear.
What troubles have we seen,
what mighty conflicts past,
fightings without, and fears within,
since we assembled last!
Yet out of all the Lord
hath brought us by his love;
and still he doth his help afford,
and hides our life above.
Then let us make our boast
of his redeeming power,
which saves us to the uttermost,
till we can sin no more.
Let us take up the cross
till we the crown obtain,
and gladly reckon all things loss
so we may Jesus gain.
Quote: “And Are We Yet Alive” first appeared in the Wesleys’ 1749 hymnal, Hymns And Sacred Poems. In 1780 John included it in his A Collection of Hymns for the Use of the People Called Methodist as the first hymn in the section titled “For the Society . . . at meeting.” It was John himself who began the custom of opening the annual meeting of Methodists by singing this hymn. The practice was picked up by Methodists around the world, and it largely continues today. There is no requirement that this be the opening hymn at annual conference; but it is, indeed, a cherished custom. – Why Do We Sing “And Are We Yet Alive” at the Opening of Annual Conference? by Dean McIntyre, from http://www.gbod.org/lead-your-church/hymnals-by-name/resource/why-do-we-sing-and-are-we-yet-alive-at-the-opening-of-annual-conference
The hymn was originally a poem entitled “Meeting of Friends” and consisted of 4 stanzas, the first three of which are now commonly sung as six verses. The last stanza was omitted, according to The Methodist Hymn-book and its Associations by George J. Stevenson: This hymn forms No. 236 of Charles Wesley s ” Hymns and Sacred Poems,” 1749, vol. ii., page 321. The fourth verse of the original is omitted; but it is given here because of its connexion historically with Methodism, this being the hymn which has been sung, more or less, at the opening of the Conference, for probably more than a century. It is also used at the opening of the conferences of other sections of the Methodist family. The last verse is as follows:
Jesus, to Thee we bow, And for Thy coming wait;
Give us for good some token now, In our imperfect state;
Apply the hallowing word; Tell each who looks for Thee:
“Thou shalt be perfect as thy Lord, Thou shalt be all like Me.”
There seems to be something of discord between the sentiments conveyed in the third and fourth verses : in the former we read of the power of redeeming grace, which saves ” Till we can sin no more; whilst in the latter verse, as given above, we read of our present being “our imperfect state.” Taken together, it is evident that the poet means the sinless state of the third verse.
What characteristic United Methodist belief statements do you find in this hymn?
What phrase really speaks to your mind or heart as very important for us to understand and remember?
*An exercise from Living Our United Methodist Beliefs by George Hovaness Donigian: “This hymn is sung at the opening of annual conferences. The Wesley brothers included the hymn in the 1749 collection, Hymns and Sacred Poems. John Wesley began the custom of singing the hymn at annual conference. The hymn celebrates our common heritage and further celebrates the grace of God in our lives since our last gathering. After singing the hymn, imagine yourself as eighteenth-century Methodist preachers
and then read aloud stanzas 3 and 6 of the hymn.”
The Methodist Hymn-book and its Associations by George J. Stevenson can be viewed at http://www.archive.org/stream/themethodisthymn00stevuoft/themethodisthymn00stevuoft_djvu.txt
Discussion questions and comments marked with an asterisk (*) are drawn from the Advanced Lay Speaker course materials Living Our United Methodist Beliefs by George Hovaness Donigian. This instructional resource is available from the Upper Room Bookstore at http://bookstore.upperroom.org/cart/upperroom/p-17972.htm?tptm=pf.