Who was Charles Wesley? All you need to know about the famous 18th-century hymn writer

As well as helping to create the Methodist Church, the 18th-century hymn lyricist Charles Wesley penned many of our favourite hymns and carols. Here's all you need to know about him

Charles Wesley
Published: December 1, 2021 at 4:26 pm
Want to try our magazine? Save over 40% when you subscribe to BBC Music Magazine today!

Who was Charles Wesley?

You may not recognise the name but you will probably recognise some of his words and even sung them. Charles Wesley was one of the world's most prolific and illustrious hymn writers, writing over 6,500 hymns during his lifetime. Some of his most famous works include 'Love Divine, All Loves Excelling', Hark The Herald Angels Sing', and 'Lo! He Comes With Clouds Descending'. Let's face it – a Christmas carol service would not be the same without a hearty rendition of 'Hark The Herald Angels Sing', which we named one of the best Christmas carols ever.

Advertisement

Charles and his brother John Wesley founded the Methodist church in the mid-18th century.

When and where was Charles Wesley born?

Charles Wesley was born on 18 December 1707 in Epworth, Lincolnshire. He was the son of Anglican cleric and poet Samuel Wesley, and just like his father, he was ordained as a priest into the Anglican church in 1735.

In April 1749, Charles Wesley married Sarah Gwynne. They went on to have three children, including Charles Wesley Jr, who was the personal organist for the Royal Family.

When did Charles Wesley die?

Charles Wesley died on 29 March 1788, aged 80, in London.

10 hymns and carols by Charles Wesley

  • Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
  • Hark The Herald Angels Sing
  • Arise, My Soul, Arise
  • Depth of Mercy, Can it Be
  • Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending
  • Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies
  • Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
  • And Can It Be That I Should Gain?
  • Rejoice, the Lord is King
  • Father, I Stretch My Hands to Thee
Advertisement

Find lyrics to many of your favourite hymns and Christmas carols

Sponsored content