Charles Wesley (Pic: Methodist Church)
by Tim Daykin
This December Methodists and hymn-lovers the world over will be celebrating the 300th anniversary of the birth of Charles Wesley – one of the most prolific hymnwriters there has ever been.
Charles was born in 1707, the youngest son in a family of 19 children and like his elder brother John, was ordained a Church of England clergyman.
Born within living memory of the Puritan Oliver Cromwell and the Catholic King Charles II these were uncertain times for religion. Charles Wesley also saw the early stirrings of Industrial Revolution at home and political revolution in France.
John founded the Methodist Church - challenging the rules and authority of the established Church of England.
Both Charles and John traveled throughout the country preaching and encouraging small groups of Christians called classes. These were the beginnings of the Methodist Movement.
Charles wrote over 7,000 hymns to enable Christians to celebrate, nurture and share their faith. Only a few dozens are still sung but these include such classics as Love Divine, All Loves Excelling and the Christmas favourite Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.
Both the Wesley brothers visited Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight staying with their friend and fellow reformer George Whitfield at Baughurst.
Charles also crossed the Solent to preach on the Isle of Wight a number of times and it was Methodism that nurtured at least three of the Tolpuddle Martyrs in their struggle for workers' rights in Dorset.
Charles Wesley died in 1788.
last updated: 02/11/07