John Wesley

John Wesley
Short Name: John Wesley
Full Name: Wesley, John, 1703-1791
Birth Year: 1703
Death Year: 1791

John Wesley, the son of Samuel, and brother of Charles Wesley, was born at Epworth, June 17, 1703. He was educated at the Charterhouse, London, and at Christ Church, Oxford. He became a Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford, and graduated M.A. in 1726. At Oxford, he was one of the small band consisting of George Whitefield, Hames Hervey, Charles Wesley, and a few others, who were even then known for their piety; they were deridingly called "Methodists." After his ordination he went, in 1735, on a mission to Georgia. The mission was not successful, and he returned to England in 1738. From that time, his life was one of great labour, preaching the Gospel, and publishing his commentaries and other theological works. He died in London, in 1791, in his eighty-eighth year. His prose works are very numerous, but he did not write many useful hymns. It is to him, however, and not to his brother Charles, that we are indebted for the translations from the German.

--Annotations of the Hymnal, Charles Hutchins, M.A., 1872
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John Wesley, M.A., was born at Epworth Rectory in 1703, and, like the rest of the family, received his early education from his mother. He narrowly escaped perishing in the fire which destroyed the rectory house in 1709, and his deliverance made a life-long impression upon him. In 1714 he was nominated on the foundation of Charterhouse by his father's patron, the Duke of Buckingham, and remained at that school until 1720, when he went up, with a scholarship, from Charterhouse to Christ Church, Oxford. Having taken his degree, he received Holy Orders from the Bishop of Oxford (Dr. Potter) in 1725. In 1726 he was elected Fellow of Lincoln College, and remained at Oxford until 1727, when he returned into Lincolnshire to assist his father as curate at Epworth and Wroot. In 1729 he was summoned back to Oxford by his firm friend, Dr. Morley, Rector of Lincoln, to assist in the College tuition. There he found already established the little band of "Oxford Methodists" who immediately placed themselves under his direction. In 1735 he went, as a Missionary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, to Georgia, where a new colony had been founded under the governorship of General Oglethorpe. On his voyage out he was deeply impressed with the piety and Christian courage of some German fellow travellers, Moravians. During his short ministry in Georgia he met with many discouragements, and returned home saddened and dissatisfied both with himself and his work; but in London he again fell in with the Moravians, especially with Peter Bohler; and one memorable night (May 24, 1738) he went to a meeting in Aldersgate Street, where some one was reading Luther's preface to the Epistle to the Romans. There, "About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me, that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death." From that moment his future course was sealed; and for more than half a century he laboured, through evil report and good report, to spread what he believed to be the everlasting Gospel, travelling more miles, preaching more sermons, publishing more books of a practical sort, and making more converts than any man of his day, or perhaps of any day, and dying at last, March 2, 1791, in harness, at the patriarchal age of 88.

The popular conception of the division of labour between the two brothers in the Revival, is that John was the preacher, and Charles the hymnwriter. But this is not strictly accurate. On the one hand Charles was also a great preacher, second only to his brother and George Whitefield in the effects which he produced. On the other hand, John by no means relegated to Charles the exclusive task of supplying the people with their hymns. John Wesley was not the sort of man to depute any part of his work entirely to another: and this part was, in his opinion, one of vital importance. With that wonderful instinct for gauging the popular mind, which was one element in his success, he saw at once that hymns might be utilized, not only for raising the devotion, but also for instructing, and establishing the faith of his disciples. He intended the hymns to be not merely a constituent part of public worship, but also a kind of creed in verse. They were to be "a body of experimental and practical divinity." "In what other publication," he asks in his Preface to the Wesleyan Hymn Book, 1780 (Preface, Oct. 20,1779), "have you so distinct and full an account of Scriptural Christianity; such a declaration of the heights and depths of religion, speculative and practical; so strong cautions against the most plausible errors, particularly those now most prevalent; and so clear directions for making your calling and election sure; for perfecting holiness in the fear of God?" The part which he actually took in writing the hymns, it is not easy to ascertain; but it is certain that more than thirty translations from the German, French and Spanish (chiefly from the German) were exclusively his; and there are some original hymns, admittedly his composition, which are not unworthy to stand by the side of his brother's. His translations from the German especially have had a wide circulation. Although somewhat free as translations they embody the fire and energy of the originals.

It has been the common practice, however for a hundred years or more to ascribe all translations from the German to John Wesley, as he only of the two brothers knew that language; and to assign to Charles Wesley all the original hymns except such as are traceable to John Wesley through his Journals and other works.

The list of 482 original hymns by John and Charles Wesley listed in this Dictionary of Hymnology have formed an important part of Methodist hymnody and show the enormous influence of the Wesleys on the English hymnody of the nineteenth century.

-- Excerpts from John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)
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See also in:

Featured Article:
John Wesley as Hymn and Tune Editor: the evidence of Charles Wesley's "Jesu, Lover of My Soul" and Martin Madan's HOTHAM by Steven Darsey (from "The Hymn")

Texts by John Wesley (188)sort iconAsInstances
A charge to keep I haveJ. Wesley (Author)1
A poor, blind child, I wander hereJohn Wesley (Author)2
And can it be that I should gainJohn Wesley (Author)115
Arm me with thy whole armor, LordJohn Wesley (Author)4
As through this wilderness I strayJohn Wesley (Author)2
Author of life divineRev. John Wesley (Author)7
Awed by a mortal's frownJohn Wesley (Author)2
Before Jehovah's awful throneJohn Wesley (Adapter)56
Beth yw'r udgorn glywai'n seinio?J. W. (Author (stanza 1))1
Brethren in Christ and well belovedJ. Wesley (Author)1
Bydd mrydd o ryfeddodauJ. W. (Author (stanza 2))1
Called in the morning of their dayJohn Wesley (Author)3
Christ, the Lord is risen today, Sons of men and angels sayJ. W. (Author)1
Clodforwch Frenin nefoedd fryRev. John Wesley (Translator)1
Come, blessed Savior from aboveJohn Wesley (Author)4
Come, O thou Prophet of the LordJohn Wesley (Author)3
Come, Savior, Jesus, from aboveJohn Wesley (Author)44
Come, ye that love the Lord, And let our joys be knownJ. Wesley (Alterer)7
Come, ye weary sinners, come, All who groan beneath your loadRev. John Wesley, 1703-1791 (Author)1
Comfort, ye ministers of grace, Comfort, the people of your LordJ. Wesley (Author)1
Commit thou all thy griefsJohn Wesley (Author)123
Commit thou all that grieves theeJohn Wesley, 1703-1791 (Translator)1
Dàl fi, fy Nuw, dàl fi i'r lànRev. John Wesley (Translator)1
Do all the good you can, By all the means you canJohn Wesley (Author (attributed to))2
O'er the gloomy hills of darknessJ. W. (Translator)1
Dust and ashes though we beJohn Wesley (Author)2
Eternal Beam of light divineJohn Wesley (Author)1
Eternal depth of love divineJohn Wesley (Author)29
Eternal Power! whose high abodeJohn Wesley, 1703-91 (Author)1
Eternal Son, eternal loveJohn Wesley, 1703-91 (Author)2
Extended on a cursed treeJohn Wesley (Author)36
Father, God, we glorify Thy love to Adam's seedJohn Wesley (Author)1
Father, if justly still we claimJohn Wesley, 1703-91 (Alterer)1
Father of all, whose powerful voiceJ. Wesley (Author)10
Father, thine everlasting graceJohn Wesley (Author)4
Father, 'tis thine each day to yieldJ. Wesley (Author)2
First born of many brethren, thouJohn Wesley (Author)1
For ever here my rest shall beJohn Wesley (Author)1
For zeal I sigh, for zeal I pantJohn Wesley (Author)2
Fountain of good, all blessing flowsJohn Wesley (Author)5
From all that dwell below the skiesJohn Wesley (Author)20
Give to the winds thy fearsJohn Wesley (Translator)324
Giver and Lord of lifeJohn Wesley (Author)5
Glorious and blessed GodJohn Wesley (Author)2
Glory to God, whose sovereign graceJohn Wesley (Author)18
Granted is the Savior's prayerJohn Wesley (Author)1
Great shepherd of souls, bring home to your foldJohn Wesley (Author)2
Hark! the herald angels sing Glory to the new-born KingJ. C. W. (Author)1
He dies! the friend of sinners dies!Rev. John Wesley, 1703-1791 (Alterer)12
High on his everlasting throneJohn Wesley (Author)22
Ho, everyone that thirsts, draw nighJ. Wesley (Author)17
Holy Lamb and Prince of PeaceJohn Wesley (Translator)1
Holy Lamb who thee receiveJ. Wesley (Author)7
How can it be, thou heavenly kingJohn Wesley (Author)12
How happy is the pilgrim's lotJohn Wesley (Author)113
How weak the thoughts and vainJohn Wesley (Author)1
I call the world's Redeemer mineJohn Wesley (Author)1
I come, thou wounded Lamb of GodJohn Wesley (Author)7
I long to behold him arrayedJ. Wesley (Author)1
I thank thee, uncreated SunJ. Wesley (Author)15
I thirst, thou wounded Lamb of GodJ. Wesley (Author)51
I'll praise my Maker with my breathJohn Wesley (Adapter)23
In every land begin the songJohn Wesley (Author)1
Into thy gracious hands I fallJohn Wesley (Author)26
Is there a thing beneath the sunJohn Wesley (Translator)3
Jesus, whose glory's streaming raysJohn Wesley (Author)5
Jesus, be endless praise to theeJohn Wesley (Author)4
Jesus, full of truth and loveRev. John Wesley, 1703-1791 (Author)5
Jesus, I know, hath died for meJohn Wesley (Translator)21
Jesus, let thy sufferings ease usJohn Wesley, 1703-91 (Author)1
Jesus, my Savior, Brother, FriendJohn Wesley (Author)43
Jesus, the Lord, our righteousnessJohn Wesley (Author)3
Jesus, thou source of calm reposeJohn Wesley (Author)32
Jesus, thou wounded Lamb of GodJohn Wesley (Translator)2
Jesus, thy blood and righteousnessJohn Wesley (Translator)323
Jesus, Thy boundless love to meJohn Wesley, 1703-1791 (Translator)249
Jesus, thy light again I viewJohn Wesley (Author)3
Jesus, thy spotless righteousnessJohn Wesley (Author)3
Jesus, to my thee heart I bowJohn Wesley (Translator)1
Jesus, transporting sound!John Wesley, 1703-91 (Author)1
Jesus, what offering shall I giveJohn Wesley (Author)3
ReadingsJohn Wesley (Author)2
Lamb of God, who thee receiveRev. John Wesley, 1703-91 (Translator)13
Leave to his sovereign swayJohn Wesley (Author)1
Lo! God is here: let us adoreJohn Wesley (Translator)103
Lo! He comes with clouds descending, Once for guilty sinners slainJohn Wesley (Author)2
Lord, dismiss us with Thy blessing, Bid us now depart in peaceJ. Wesley (Translator)1
Lord, I am not mine, but yours aloneJohn Wesley (Author)2
Lord, I believe thy precious bloodJohn Wesley (Author)2
Lord, I believe were sinners moreJohn Wesley (Author)6
Lord over all, sent to fulfillJohn Wesley (Author)2
Lord, take my heart, and let it beJohn Wesley (Translator (from German))4
Lord, thy imputed righteousnessJohn Wesley (Author)4
Meek, patient Lamb of God, to theeJohn Wesley (Author)2
Messiah, Prince of PeaceJohn Wesley (Author)1
Monarch of all, with humble fearJohn Wesley (Author)2
More hard than marble is my heartJohn Wesley (Author)1
My Savior, how shall I proclaimJohn Wesley (Author)12
My Savior, thou thy love to meJohn Wesley (Author)15
My soul before thee prostrate liesJohn Wesley (Author)18
My soul, watch and prayJ. W. (Author)2
Now I have found the ground whereinJ. Wesley, 1703-91 (Translator)95
Now I have found the sure foundationJohn Wesley (Author)1
Now, O my God, thou hast my soulJohn Wesley (Author)2
O come, thou stricken Lamb of GodJohn Wesley (Translator)1
O come, thou wounded Lamb of GodJohn Wesley (1703-1791) (Composite Arranger)1
O draw me, Father, after theeJohn Wesley (Author)9
O glorious hope of perfect loveJohn Wesley (Author)2
O God, my God, in whom combineJohn Wesley (Author)2
O God, my God, my all thou artJohn Wesley (Author)17
O God of all graceJ. Wesley (Author)1
O God of gods, in whom combineJohn Wesley, 1703-91 (Translator)1
O God of good, the unfathomed seaJohn Wesley (Author)18
O God, thou bottomless abyss, Thee to perfection who can know?J. Wesley (Translator)37
O God, thou sovereign Lord of allWesley (Author)1
O God, what offering shall I giveJohn Wesley (Author)34
O Jesus, we adore Thee, Upon the cross our KingS S Wesley (Author)4
O King of glory, thy rich graceJohn Wesley (Author)6
O Lord, enlarge our scanty thoughtJohn Wesley, 1703-91 (Translator)2
O Lord, within thy sacred gatesRev. John Wesley, 1703-1791 (Translator)2
O love, how cheering is thy rayJohn Wesley (Author)7
O love, thy sovereign aid impartJohn Wesley (Author)7
O Sun of righteousness, arise With healing in thy wingJ. Wesley (Author)54
O Thou, to whose all-searching sightJohn Wesley (Translator)105
O thou who all things canst controlJohn Wesley (Author)14
On all the earth thy Spirit showerJ. Wesley (Alterer)3
Our Lord is risen from the dead, Our Jesus is gone up on highJohn Wesley (Author)1
Parent of good, Thy bounteous handJohn Wesley (Translator)2
Put thou thy trust in GodJohn Wesley (Author)17
Regardless now of things belowJohn Wesley (Author)2
Riches unsearchable in Jesu's love we knowJohn Wesley (Author)2
Righteous God, whose vengeful vialsJohn Wesley (Author)1
Savior of men, Thy searching eyeJ. Wesley (Translator)10
Servant of God, well done! Thy glorious warfare's pastJohn Wesley (Author)1
Shall I, for fear of feeble man, The Spirit's course in me restrain?John Wesley (Author)58
Sinners, lift up your heartsRev. John Wesley, 1703-1791 (Author)1
Sinners, rejoice, your peace is madeJohn Wesley (Author)1
Sinners! turn, why will ye die? God, your Maker, asks you why?J. Wesley (Author)3
Son of thy Sire's eternal loveJ. Wesley (Author)1
Spirit of peace and love and power!J. Wesley (Author)9
Still nigh me, O my Savior, standJ. Wesley (1703-1791) (Adapter (verses 2 and 3))1
Summoned my labor to renewJ. Wesley (Author)1
Surrounded by a host of foesJohn Wesley (Author)1
Take, Lord, all self from me, that IJohn Wesley (Author)2
Take my poor heart, closed let it beJ. Wesley (Translator)2
Teach me, my God and King, In all things Thee to seeJohn Wesley (Recaster (v. 2, 3, 4))24
The holy, meek, unspotted lambJohn Wesley (Author)2
The Lord is here, let us adoreJohn Wesley (Author)2
The love of Christ doth me constrainJohn Wesley (Author)3
Thee, Jesus, full of truth and graceJ. Wesley (Author)1
Thee will I love, my Strength, my Tower (Wesley)John Wesley (Translator)87
Thine, Lord, is wisdom, thine aloneJohn Wesley (Translator (from German))11
Thou hidden love of God, Whose heightJohn Wesley (Translator)100
Thou, Jesus art our King!John Wesley (Translator)1
Thou Lamb of God, thou Prince of PeaceJohn Wesley (Author)17
Thou, Lord, art Light, thy native rayJohn Wesley (Author)3
Thou, Lord, of all the parent artJohn Wesley (Author)8
Thou on the Lord relyJohn Wesley (Author)1
Thou seest our weakness, LordJohn Wesley (Author)7
Thou Shepherd of Israel, and mineJohn Wesley (Author)2
Thou, true and only God, leadest forthJ. Wesley (Author)11
Thou very paschal LambJ. C. W. (Author)3
Though waves and storms go o'er my headJohn Wesley (Author)18
Through waves, through [and] clouds and stormsJohn Wesley (Author)7
Thy ceaseless, unexhausted loveCharles Wesley, 1707-1788 (Author)1
Thy everlasting truthJohn Wesley (Translator)2
Thy parent hand, thy forming skillJohn Wesley (Author)6
To God--the Father, Son, And Spirit, Three in OneJohn Wesley (Author)3
To God, the Father, Son, And Spirit, glory beJohn Wesley (Author)1
To God the Father, Son, And Spirit One and ThreeRev. John Wesley, 1703-1791 (Author)5
To God the Father, Son, And Spirit One in ThreeJohn Wesley (Author)10
To heart and soul how fair thou artJohn Wesley (Author)2
To thee, O Lord, with humble fearJohn Wesley (Author)1
Unchangeable all-perfect LordJohn Wesley (Author)2
Unclean of life and heart uncleanJ. Wesley (Author)5
Uphold me in the doubtful raceJohn Wesley (Author)2
We lift our hearts to thee, Thou Day-Star from on high!Rev. John Wesley, 1703-1791 (Author)110
We pray thee, wounded Lamb of GodJohn Wesley (Author)3
Wealth, honor, pleasure, and what elseJohn Wesley (Author)5
What can we offer Thee, O LordRev. John Wesley, 1703-91 (Author)3
What can we render, Lord to theeJohn Wesley (Author)2
What shall we offer our good LordJohn Wesley (Author)8
When rising floods my soul o'erflowJohn Wesley (Author)2
Who, who, my Savior, this hath doneJohn Wesley (Author)1
Why seek ye that which is not breadRev. John Wesley (Author)1
Ye neighbors and friends of Jesus, draw nearJ. Wesley (Author)1
Ye simple souls that strayJohn Wesley (Author)40
Ye virgin souls, ariseJohn Wesley (Author)1



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