An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Wesley, Charles

(Dec. 18, 1708-Mar. 29, 1788). English hymn writer, priest, and missionary to colonial America. He was born in Epworth, England, the eighteenth child of Samuel and Susannah Wesley. Wesley graduated from St. Peter's College, Westminster, London, in 1721 and from Christ Church, Oxford, in 1726. At Oxford he, along with his brother John, was a member of the "Holy Club," and lived a very disciplined religious life. They were nicknamed the "Methodists." In 1735 he was ordained priest and went to Georgia with John as a missionary for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. Charles returned to England in 1736. On May 21, 1738, he "experienced the witness of adoption," that is, an experience of conversion. He had an itinerant ministry and eventually settled in London. He wrote more than 5,500 hymns. Twenty of these are in The Hymnal 1982, including "Christ, whose glory fills the skies" (Hymns 6-7); "Lo! He comes, with clouds descending" (Hymns 57-58); "Come, thou long expected Jesus" (Hymn 66); "Hark! the herald angels sing" (Hymn 87); "Love's redeeming work is done" (Hymn 188-189); "Jesus Christ is risen today" (Hymn 207); "Hail the day that sees him rise" (Hymn 214); "Rejoice, the Lord is King!" (Hymn 481); "O for a thousand tongues" (Hymn 493); "Let saints on earth in concert sing" (Hymn 526); "Ye servants of God" (Hymn 535); "Come, O thou Traveler unknown" (Hymn 638-639); and "Love divine, all loves excelling" (Hymn 657). He died in London. Charles and his brother John are commemorated in the Episcopal calendar of the church year on Mar. 3.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.