CHARLES WESLEY wrote 8,989
hymns (at least three times the output of poet William Wordsworth).
Dr Frank Baker, a Wesleyan scholar, calculated that Charles Wesley
wrote an average of 10 lines of verse every day for 50 years!
He completed an extant poem every other day.
John and Charles Wesley published 56 collections
of hymns in 53 years.
"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" was originally written
as "Hark! How All the Welkin Rings" (meaning "how
all the heaven rings"). Thankfully, Charles Wesley's popular
Christmas carol was changed by his friend George Whitefield, the
famous evangelist who sparked America's Great Awakening.
Charles Wesley was an accomplished field preacher, who on occasion
addressed crowds of 10,000 and 20,000 people. He experienced considerable
opposition, sometimes from rock-throwing mobs. In fact, his well-known
hymn "Ye Servants of God, Your Master Proclaim" was
written "to be sung in a tumult".
John Wesley's first two published books of tunes included only
a melody line because he held serious doubts about the propriety
of singing in parts.
Throughout Charles Wesley's life, his Methodist companions sang
none of his hymns in Sunday worship. (Throughout Wesley's lifetime,
Methodists stayed in the Anglican church, which did not employ
the new hymns in worship. Wesley's hymns were sung in informal
Methodist gatherings during the week.)
Many early hymns contained more than a dozen stanzas. Charles
Wesley's "Soldiers of Christ, Arise," for example, originally
boasted 18 stanzas. Brother John Wesley included only 12 of these
in his 1780 hymn book - and he divided them into three separate
The first hymn book of the Wesleys was published not in England
but in America (in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1737). And it
contained no texts by Charles Wesley. For his effort, John Wesley
was "arraigned before a grand jury for altering authorised
psalms and for introducing unauthorised compositions into church
Though not usually known for writing hymns, John Wesley did write
several original hymns, and he translated many from German.
John Wesley often severely edited his brother Charles's hymns,
both for length and theology. When Charles wrote "Thou didst
in love Thy servant leave", John wrote in the margin, "Never!"