This is the second instalment of a two-part article on the 18th century Methodist preacher and hymnodist Charles Wesley.
Charles Wesley was the hymnwriter par excellence of Methodism. He has been called the poet of the 18th-century Evangelical Revival. Although no mean preacher and pastor, his hymns were his greatest contribution to the whole evangelical movement.
It is estimated that Wesley’s huge lifetime output came to over 6,000 hymns and 3,000 sacred poems. Along with Isaac Watts, he was responsible more than any other hymnwriter for helping Christians break away from singing exclusive psalmody to a fuller, new covenant expression of praise.
Charles wrote for all occasions, expressing all kinds of individual and corporate Christian experience, and reflecting all the major seasons of the Christian calendar. So comprehensive was his scope that the variously published Methodist hymnbooks, while including exquisite translations of Moravian hymns by John Wesley and hymns by Isaac Watts, Philip Doddridge, and other hymnwriters, were largely Charles’s creation.