Vintage Saints: Charles Wesley

On December 18, 1707, Charles Wesley was born–the 18th of Samuel and Susanna Wesley’s 19 children. His brother John was the 15th. 

Wesley was born in Epworth, Lincolnshire, England, where his father was rector. He was educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford, and formed the “Oxford Methodist” group among his fellow students in 1727. John joined in 1729 and soon became its leader, moulding it to his own notions.

Charles lived and worked in the area around St Marylebone Parish Church. Just before his death, he sent for its rector John Harley and told him “Sir, whatever the world may say of me, I have lived, and I die, a member of the Church of England. I pray you to bury me in your churchyard.” On his death, his body was carried to the church by eight clergymen of the Church of England, and a memorial stone to him stands in the gardens in Marylebone High Street, close to his burial spot. One of his sons, Samuel, became organist of the church

During his lifetime, Charles would author of some 6,000 hymns. Hark! the Herald Angels Sing, Jesus, Lover of My Soul and And Can It Be That I Should Gain? are among of the most famous of his works.

Mars Hill provides a nice overview:

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Justin Taylor also points to an essay by Bernard Manning providing a good analysis of the quality and value of Wesley’s hymnody. 


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