« Prev Wesley, Charles Next »

Wesley, Charles, has been called "the poet of Methodism," but this designation is too narrow for him. He might more properly be called the poet of Christendom, for the entire Christian world is indebted to him for many of its most valuable hymns. For the first place among English hymn writers he has never had but one competitor. Hymnologists have sometimes instituted a comparison between the hymns of Wesley and those of Watts. Some have given the preference to one, and some to the other. We must remember that these men were not rivals. They were too good, too great, and too unlike to be antagonists. They were both princes--aye, kings--of song, but each in his own realm. Watts's great theme was divine majesty, and no one approaches him in excellence upon this subject. Wesley's grandest theme was love--the love of God--and here he had no rival. Charles Wesley was born in Epworth, England, December 18, 1707. He was educated at Westminster School and Oxford University, where he took his degree in 1728. It was while a student at Christ Church College that Wesley and a few associates, by strict attention to duty and exemplary conduct, won for themselves the derisive epithet of "Methodists." He was ordained a priest in the Church of England in 1735, and that same year he sailed with his brother John as a missionary to Georgia, but soon returned to England. He was not converted, according to his own statement, until Whitsunday, May 21, 1738. (See note under No. 1.) On that day he received a conscious knowledge of sins forgiven, and this event was the real beginning of his mission as the singer of Methodism. He tells his own experience beautifully in the hymn beginning:

And can it be that I should gain

An interest in the Saviour's blood?

Charles Wesley's hymns may be generally classified as follows: Hymns of Christian experience ("O for a thousand tongues to sing" is an example); invitation hymns (of which "Come, sinners, to the gospel feast" is a good specimen); sanctification hymns ("O for a heart to praise my God" is one of them); funeral hymns ("Rejoice for a brother deceased"); and hymns on the love of God, a subject on which he never became weary. "Wrestling Jacob" represents the last class. But it is preëminently in portraying the various phases of experimental religion--conviction of sin, penitence, saving faith, pardon, assurance, entire sanctification--that Charles Wesley is quite without a peer among hymn writers. His songs have been one of the most potent forces in Methodism since its organization. Nor was he a singer alone, but as an itinerant preacher he was a busy and earnest colaborer with his brother John. After his marriage, in 1749, his itinerant labors were largely restricted to London and Bristol. He died March 29, 1788. "After all," says Dr. John Julian, the greatest authority in English Hymnology, "it was Charles Wesley who was the great hymn writer of the Wesley family, and perhaps, taking quantity and quality into consideration, the great hymn writer of all ages." Of the six thousand and five hundred hymns by Charles Wesley (all of which were written after his conversion), this collection contains one hundred and twenty-one. (See page 451 for a complete list of the poetical publications of John and Charles Wesley.)

A charge to keep I have 388
A thousand oracles divine 75
445Ah! whither should I go 283
All praise to our redeeming Lord 553
And am I born to die 590
And are we yet alive 560
And can I yet delay 275
And can it be that I should gain 310
And let our bodies part 227
And let this feeble body fail 607
And must I be to judgment brought 600
Arise, my soul, arise 301
Arm of the Lord, awake, awake 216
Author of faith, eternal Word 298
Awake, Jerusalem, awake 217
Blest be the dear uniting love 228
Blow ye the trumpet, blow 294
Christ, the Lord, is risen to-day 156
Come, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost 229
Come, Holy Ghost, our hearts inspire 181
Come, let us anew our journey 568
Come, let us join our friends above 611
Come, let us join with one accord 63
Come, let us use the grace divine 569
Come, let us who in Christ believe 36
Come, O thou all-victorious Lord 241
Come, O thou Traveler unknown 511
Come on, my partners in distress 432
Come, sinners, to the gospel feast 256
Come, thou almighty King 2
Come, thou long-expected Jesus 116
Depth of mercy, can there be 267
Father, I stretch my hands to thee 277
Father of Jesus Christ, my Lord 297
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost 726
Forever here my rest shall be 357
Forth in thy name, O Lord, I go 400
Give me a new, a perfect heart 366
Giver of concord, Prince of peace 563
God of all power and truth and 378
God of love, that hearest prayer 562
Hail the day that sees him rise 162
Happy the man that finds the 372
Hark! the herald angels sing 111
Ho! every one that thirsts, draw 258
Holy and true and righteous Lord 377
How can a sinner know 303
How happy every child of grace 605
I know that my Redeemer lives 370
I the good fight have fought 391
I want a principle within 320
In age and feebleness extreme 746
Infinite God, to thee we raise 10
Jesus, from whom all blessings flow 561
Jesus, let all thy lovers shine 321
Jesus, let thy pitying eye 491
Jesus, Lover of my soul 463
Jesus, my strength, my hope 340
Jesus, my Truth, my Way 471
Jesus, the all-restoring word 331
Jesus, the Conqueror, reigns 172
Jesus, the name high over all 222
Jesus, the sinner's Friend, to thee 271
Jesus, the Truth and Power divine 220
Jesus, thine all-victorious love 375
Jesus, thou all-redeeming Lord 263
Jesus, united by thy grace 557
Join, all ye ransomed sons of grace 576
Leader of faithful souls, and Guide 459
Let earth and heaven agree 565
Let Him to whom we now belong 373
Let not the wise their wisdom boast 308
Lift up your hearts to things above 558
Light of those whose dreary 638
Lo! He comes, with clouds 601
Lo! on a narrow neck of land 579
Lord, I believe a rest remains 356
Lord, if at thy command 648
Lord, in the strength of grace 352
Lord, whom winds and seas obey 103
Love Divine, all loves excelling 355
Loving Jesus, gentle Lamb 374
O come and dwell in me 362
O for a heart to praise my God 354
O for a thousand tongues to sing 1
O for that tenderness of heart 278
O glorious hope of perfect love 365
O God, most merciful and true 401
O how happy are they 311
O joyful sound of gospel grace 371
O love divine, how sweet thou art 368
O love divine, what hast thou done 153
O that I could repent! O that 264
O that I could repent! With all 265
O that my load of sin were gone 381
O thou who earnest from above 313
O thou whom all thy saints adore 13
Our Lord is risen from the dead 158
Rejoice, the Lord is King 178
See how great a flame aspires 643
Servant of God, well done! Thy 593
Sing to the great Jehovah's praise 575
Sing we to our God above 725
Sinners, turn, why will ye die 247
Soldiers of Christ, arise 382
Spirit of faith, come down 191
Stand the omnipotent decree 598
Stay, thou insulted Spirit, stay 269
Talk with us, Lord, thyself reveal 499
Thou great mysterious God unknown 318
Thou hidden source of calm repose 466
Thou Son of God, whose flaming eyes 245
To God your every want 512
Try us, O God, and search the 555
Weary souls that wander wide 262
Weep not for a brother deceased 594
What is our calling's glorious hope 358
Wherewith, O Lord, shall I draw 244
Who are these arrayed in white 619
With glorious clouds encompassed 327
Ye servants of God, your Master 11
« Prev Wesley, Charles Next »
VIEWNAME is workSection