In this installment of our modern animated series about John and Charles Wesley, the guys have an impromptu songwriting session. Go "behind the music" with the brothers who founded Methodism.
We hope you will watch and share these clips, whether with your confirmation class, new member class, Sunday school group or in other settings. Some suggested discussion questions are below.
See more of the Wesleys Take the Web series.
Charles Wesley: Hey brother! I'm working on a song and I could use your help. What rhymes with bunny?
John Wesley: Honey. Money. Sunny. Funny – which this is not. Please! I'm working on a sermon.
CW: What rhymes with hard-boiled egg?
JW: I don't know. Yard-soiled Gregg? I'm busy.
CW: And "chocolate"?
JW: Nothing rhymes with choco… Wait. What in the world are you working on?
CW: A hymn for Easter Day.
JW: Are you open to a little constructive criticism?
CW: That's never stopped you before.
JW: Easter isn't just a celebration of something that happened long ago. We celebrate that Christ the Lord is risen today.
CW: Ah-ah-ah-leluia, that's good.
JW: At Easter, love's redeeming work is done.
CW: Let me write this down.
JW: Soar we now where Christ has led! Following our exalted head. Made like him, like him we rise!
CW: So, no bunnies, hard-boiled eggs, or chocolate. Got it.
JW: Ours the cross, the grave, the skies!
See a variety of topics in the animated Wesleys Take the Web series.
These videos were produced as a 21st century follow up to the popular clip known as "Clayride: A Gallop Through United Methodist History." Find out more about the making of "Clayride" from the artists who created that 1984 classic.
Suggested discussion questions:
Through the years, the church around the world has developed traditions to help us celebrate Easter. What are your favorite things to do as part of your Easter celebration?
If you watch the music staff over John and Charles' heads in the video, you'll notice that the symbols for Easter change from bunnies, eggs and chocolate to lilies, the cross and the empty tomb. What are some symbols your church uses during the Easter season?
Note: Charles Wesley's hymn "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today," is sung by Christians all around the world. It appears in John and Charles' very first hymnal Hymns and Sacred Poems under the title, "Hymn for Easter Day" – which is what Charles says he is trying to write in the video.
Easter is the celebration of something that happened 2,000 years ago, so why do Christians sing, "Christ the Lord is risen today," in the present tense?
Sometimes when we know something so well, we need to look again at what we are singing. Let's look at the lines mentioned in the video:
- What does it mean that "love's redeeming work is done"?
- Charles writes, "Soar we now where Christ has led! Following our exalted head." What's does it look like to follow Jesus today?
- When we sing, "Ours the cross, the grave, the skies," what are we proclaiming about what Jesus has done for us through his death and resurrection?
The "alleluias" at the end of each line are not in Charles' original hymn. They were added by an editor much later, but help us celebrate. Why do you think Easter is such a big celebration in the church?
In our video, Charles writes down what John says about Easter. We don't think this actually happened for "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today," but there were times when Charles wrote hymns based on John's sermons. What songs could also be sermons – not just church songs, but others too?