In the preface to the 1780 edition o f Hymns for the People Called Methodist, John Wesley stated, 'When Poetry thus keeps its place, as the handmaid of Piety, it shall attain, not a poor perishable 'Wreath, but a crown that fadeth not away."l While John Wesley may have never used the term ''human development," a student of Wesley would quickly observe that Wesley and the early Methodists were focused on the transformation of individual human lives as well as the society in which they lived. This paper explores the connection between the hynmody of early Methodism and human development. John Wesley's theology is briefly surveyed to propose the doctrine of Christian perfection as the guiding vision for the early Methodists. From this vantage point, Christian perfection, as the renewal of the image of God, is suggested as the telos of human development in early Methodism Evidence is examined in the hynms of the Wesley's, as well as the design of the 1780 hynmbook in particular, to reveal how these poetical works might have been intended to serve as a catalyst for Christian perfection in the lives of eighteenth century Methodists. Implications are suggested for twenty-first century approaches to human development in the context of evangelism and mission.
"Poetry as the Handmaid of Piety: Hymns as a Catalyst for Human Development in Early Methodism,"
The Asbury Journal:
1, p. 77-92.
Available at: https://place.asburyseminary.edu/asburyjournal/vol67/iss1/5