1707 - 1788 Author of "Christ Is Coming!" in The Joy Bells of Canaan or Burning Bush Songs No. 2 Charles Wesley, M.A. was the great hymn-writer of the Wesley family, perhaps, taking quantity and quality into consideration, the great hymn-writer of all ages. Charles Wesley was the youngest son and 18th child of Samuel and Susanna Wesley, and was born at Epworth Rectory, Dec. 18, 1707. In 1716 he went to Westminster School, being provided with a home and board by his elder brother Samuel, then usher at the school, until 1721, when he was elected King's Scholar, and as such received his board and education free. In 1726 Charles Wesley was elected to a Westminster studentship at Christ Church, Oxford, where he took his degree in 1729, and became a college tutor. In the early part of the same year his religious impressions were much deepened, and he became one of the first band of "Oxford Methodists."
In 1735 he went with his brother John to Georgia, as secretary to General Oglethorpe, having before he set out received Deacon's and Priest's Orders on two successive Sundays. His stay in Georgia was very short; he returned to England in 1736, and in 1737 came under the influence of Count Zinzendorf and the Moravians, especially of that remarkable man who had so large a share in moulding John Wesley's career, Peter Bonier, and also of a Mr. Bray, a brazier in Little Britain. On Whitsunday, 1737, he "found rest to his soul," and in 1738 he became curate to his friend, Mr. Stonehouse, Vicar of Islington, but the opposition of the churchwardens was so great that the Vicar consented that he "should preach in his church no more." Henceforth his work was identified with that of his brother John, and he became an indefatigable itinerant and field preacher. On April 8, 1749, he married Miss Sarah Gwynne. His marriage, unlike that of his brother John, was a most happy one; his wife was accustomed to accompany him on his evangelistic journeys, which were as frequent as ever until the year 1756," when he ceased to itinerate, and mainly devoted himself to the care of the Societies in London and Bristol. Bristol was his headquarters until 1771, when he removed with his family to London, and, besides attending to the Societies, devoted himself much, as he had done in his youth, to the spiritual care of prisoners in Newgate. He had long been troubled about the relations of Methodism to the Church of England, and strongly disapproved of his brother John's "ordinations." Wesley-like, he expressed his disapproval in the most outspoken fashion, but, as in the case of Samuel at an earlier period, the differences between the brothers never led to a breach of friendship. He died in London, March 29, 1788, and was buried in Marylebone churchyard. His brother John was deeply grieved because he would not consent to be interred in the burial-ground of the City Road Chapel, where he had prepared a grave for himself, but Charles said, "I have lived, and I die, in the Communion of the Church of England, and I will be buried in the yard of my parish church." Eight clergymen of the Church of England bore his pall. He had a large family, four of whom survived him; three sons, who all became distinguished in the musical world, and one daughter, who inherited some of her father's poetical genius. The widow and orphans were treated with the greatest kindness and generosity by John Wesley.
As a hymn-writer Charles Wesley was unique. He is said to have written no less than 6500 hymns, and though, of course, in so vast a number some are of unequal merit, it is perfectly marvellous how many there are which rise to the highest degree of excellence. His feelings on every occasion of importance, whether private or public, found their best expression in a hymn. His own conversion, his own marriage, the earthquake panic, the rumours of an invasion from France, the defeat of Prince Charles Edward at Culloden, the Gordon riots, every Festival of the Christian Church, every doctrine of the Christian Faith, striking scenes in Scripture history, striking scenes which came within his own view, the deaths of friends as they passed away, one by one, before him, all furnished occasions for the exercise of his divine gift. Nor must we forget his hymns for little children, a branch of sacred poetry in which the mantle of Dr. Watts seems to have fallen upon him. It would be simply impossible within our space to enumerate even those of the hymns which have become really classical. The saying that a really good hymn is as rare an appearance as that of a comet is falsified by the work of Charles Wesley; for hymns, which are really good in every respect, flowed from his pen in quick succession, and death alone stopped the course of the perennial stream.
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)
Charles Wesley, the son of Samuel Wesley, was born at Epworth, Dec. 18, 1707. He was educated at Westminster School and afterwards at Christ Church, Oxford, where he graduated M.A. In 1735, he took Orders and immediately proceeded with his brother John to Georgia, both being employed as missionaries of the S.P.G. He returned to England in 1736. For many years he engaged with his brother in preaching the Gospel. He died March 29, 1788. To Charles Wesley has been justly assigned the appellation of the "Bard of Methodism." His prominence in hymn writing may be judged from the fact that in the "Wesleyan Hymn Book," 623 of the 770 hymns were written by him; and he published more than thirty poetical works, written either by himself alone, or in conjunction with his brother. The number of his separate hymns is at least five thousand.
--Annotations of the Hymnal, Charles Hutchins, M.A., 1872.
1650 - 1680 Person Name: J. Neander, 1680 Author of "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!" in The Lutheran Hymnary Neander, Joachim, was born at Bremen, in 1650, as the eldest child of the marriage of Johann Joachim Neander and Catharina Knipping, which took place on Sept. 18, 1649, the father being then master of the Third Form in the Paedagogium at Bremen. The family name was originally Neumann (Newman) or Niemann, but the grandfather of the poet had assumed the Greek form of the name, i.e. Neander. After passing through the Paedagogium he entered himself as a student at the Gymnasium illustre (Academic Gymnasium) of Bremen in Oct. 1666. German student life in the 17th century was anything but refined, and Neander seems to have been as riotous and as fond of questionable pleasures as most of his fellows. In July 1670, Theodore Under-Eyck came to Bremen as pastor of St. Martin's Church, with the reputation of a Pietist and holder of conventicles. Not long after Neander, with two like-minded comrades, went to service there one Sunday, in order to criticise and find matter of amusement. But the earnest words of Under-Eyck touched his heart; and this, with his subsequent conversations with Under-Eyck, proved the turning-point of his spiritual life. In the spring of 1671 he became tutor to five young men, mostly, if not all, sons of wealthy merchants at Frankfurt-am-Main, and accompanied them to the University of Heidelberg, where they seem to have remained till the autumn of 1673, and where Neander learned to know and love the beauties of Nature. The winter of 1673-74 he spent at Frankfurt with the friends of his pupils, and here he became acquainted with P. J. Spener (q.v.) and J. J. Schütz (q.v.) In the spring of 1674 he was appointed Rector of the Latin school at Düsseldorf (see further below). Finally, in 1679, he was invited to Bremen as unordained assistant to Under-Eyck at St. Martin's Church, and began his duties about the middle of July. The post was not inviting, and was regarded merely as a stepping stone to further preferment, the remuneration being a free house and 40 thalers a year, and the Sunday duty being a service with sermon at the extraordinary hour of 5 a.m. Had he lived, Under-Eyck would doubtless have done his best to get him appointed to St. Stephen's Church, the pastorate of which became vacant in Sept., 1680. But meantime Neander himself fell into a decline, and died at Bremen May 31, 1680 (Joachim Neander, sein Leben und seine Lieder. With a Portrait. By J. F. Iken, Bremen, 1880; Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, xxiii. 327, &c.)
Neander was the first important hymn-writer of the German Reformed Church since the written mostly at Düsseldorf, after his lips had been sealed to any but official work. The true history of his unfortunate conflict has now been established from the original documents, and may be summarized thus.
The school at Düsseldorf was entirely under the control of the minister and elders of the Reformed Church there. The minister from about July, 1673, to about May, 1677, was Sylvester Lürsen (a native of Bremen, and only a few years older than Neander), a man of ability and earnestness, but jealous, and, in later times at least, quarrelsome. With him Neander at first worked harmoniously, frequently preaching in the church, assisting in the visitation of the sick, &c. But he soon introduced practices which inevitably brought on a conflict. He began to hold prayer meetings of his own, without informing or consulting minister or elders; he began to absent himself from Holy Communion, on the ground that he could not conscientiously communicate along with the unconverted, and also persuaded others to follow this example; and became less regular in his attendance at the ordinary services of the Church. Besides these causes of offence he drew out a new timetable for the school, made alterations on the school buildings, held examinations and appointed holidays without consulting any one. The result of all this was a Visitation of the school on Nov. 29, 1676, and then his suspension from school and pulpit on Feb. 3, 1677. On Feb. 17 he signed a full and definite declaration by which "without mental reservations" he bound himself not to repeat any of the acts complained of; and thereupon was permitted to resume his duties as rector but not as assistant minister. The suspension thus lasted only 14 days, and his salary was never actually stopped. The statements that he was banished from Düsseldorf, and that he lived for months in a cave in the Neanderthal near Mettmann are therefore without foundation. Still his having had to sign such a document was a humiliation which he must have felt keenly, and when, after Lürsen's departure, the second master of the Latin school was appointed permanent assistant pastor, this feeling would be renewed.
Neander thus thrown back on himself, found consolation in communion with God and Nature, and in the composition of his hymns. Many were without doubt inspired by the scenery of the Neanderthal (a lovely valley with high rocky sides, between which flows the little river Düssel); and the tradition is probable enough that some of them were composed in a cave there. A number were circulated among his friends at Düsseldorf in MS., but they were first collected and published after his removal to Bremen, and appeared as:—
A und Ώ, Joachimi Neandri Glaub-und Liebesübung: — auffgemuntert durch ein fällige Bundes Lieder und Danck-Psalmen, Bremen, Hermann Brauer, 1680; 2nd ed. Bremen, 1683 ; 3rd ed. Bremen, 1687; 4th ed. Frankfurt, 1689. These editions contain 57 hymns. In the 5th ed., Frankfurt and Leipzig, 1691, edited by G. C. Strattner, eight hymns were added as being also by Neander. [The whole of these eds. are in the Royal Library, Berlin. The so-called 3rd. ed. at Wesel, 1686, also found in Berlin, was evidently pirated.] Other editions rapidly followed till we find the complete set (i.e. 57 or 58) formally incorporated as part of a hymnbook, e.g. in the Marburg Reformed Gesang-Buch, 1722, where the first part consists of Lobwasser's Psalter, the second of Neander's Bundeslieder, and the third of other hymns. Neander's Bundeslieder also form a division of the Lemgo Reformed Gesang-Buch, 1722; and of a favourite book used in the meetings conducted by G. Tersteegen, which in the 5th ed., Solingen, 1760, has the title Gott-geheiligtes Harfen-Spiel der Kinder Zion; bestehend in Joachimi Neandri sämtlichen Bundes-Liedern, &c. In this way, especially in the district near Düsseldorf and on the Ruhr, Neander's name was honoured and beloved long after it had passed out of memory at Bremen.
Many of Neander's hymns were speedily received into the Lutheran hymnbooks, and are still in universal use. The finest are the jubilant hymns of Praise and Thanksgiving, such as his "Lobe den Herren”, and those setting forth the Majesty of God in His works of beauty and wonder in Nature, such as his "Himmel, Erde", and "Unbegreiflich Gut"; while some of his hymns of Penitence, such as his "Sieh hier bin ich, Ehrenkönig" (q.v.), are also very beautiful. Many are of a decidedly subjective cast, but for this the circumstances of their origin, and the fact that the author did not expect them to be used in public worship, will sufficiently account. Here and there there are doubtless harshnesses, and occasionally imagery which is rather jarring; and naturally enough the characteristic expressions and points of view of German 17th cent. Pietism and of the "Covenant Theology" are easily enough detected. But the glow and sweetness of his better hymns, their firm faith, originality, Scripturalness, variety and mastery of rhythmical forms, and genuine lyric character fully entitled them to the high place they hold.
Of the melodies in the original edition of 1680 there are 19 by Neander himself, the best known being those to Nos. viii. and xi. below.
The hymns by Neander which have passed into English, and have not already been referred to, are:—
Hymns in English common use:
i. Meine Hoffnung stehet feste. Thanksgiving. Founded on 1 Tim. vi. 17. 1680 as above, p. 115, in 5 stanzas of 7 lines, entitled "Grace after meat." In the Unverfälschter Liedersegen, 1851, No. 712. Translated as:—
All my hope is grounded surely. A full and good translation by Miss Winkworth, as No. 8 in her Chorale Book for England, 1863.
Another translation is: "All my Hope is fix'd and grounded." By J. C. Jacobi, 1720, p. 17, repeated in his ed., 1732, p. 64, altered and beginning, "All my Hope is firmly grounded."
ii. Unbegreiflich Gut, wahrer Gott alleine. Summer. According to tradition this was written in the summer of 1677, in a cave in the Neanderthal near Düsseldorf, while Neander was in enforced absence from his school duties (Koch, vi. 20). It is founded on Ps. civ. 24. 1680, p. 165, in 12 stanzas of 6 lines, and entitled, "The Joys of Summer and Autumn in Field and Forest." The following note shows that the "Feeling for Nature" is not entirely modern.
“It is also a travelling hymn in summer or autumn for those who, on their way to Frankfurt on the Main, go up and down the river Rhine, where between Cologne and Mainz, mountains, cliffs, brooks and rocks are to be beheld with particular wonder; also in the district of Berg in the rocky region [the ‘Gestein' now called the Neanderthal], not far from Düsseldorf."
The hymn is in Knapp's Evangelischer Lieder-Schatz 1850, No. 2163 (1865, No. 2231), omitting st. x. Translated as:-—
0 Thou true God alone. A very good translation, omitting st. x., by Miss Winkworth, in her Christian Singers, 1869, p. 286. Her translation of st. i., iii.-v. altered in metre, and beginning "Thou true God alone," are No. 53 in M. W. Stryker's Christian Chorals, 1885.
Hymns not in English common use:——
iii. Auf, auf, mein Geist, erhebe dich zum Himmel. Holy Communion. Founded on Ps. xxiii. 6. 1860, as above, p. 27, in 5 stanzas, entitled, "The soul strengthened and refreshed. After the reception of the Holy Communion." In Porst's Gesang-Buch, ed. 1855, No. 218. In the Moravian London Gesang-Buch, 1753, No. 697, it begins, "Den Himmels-Vorschmack hab' ich auf der Erde," and in the Brüder Gesang-Buch, 1778, No. 1178, it was further recast (by C. Gregor?) and altered to "hab'ich schon hinieden." Translated as "Heav'n's foretaste I may here already have." By F W. Foster & J. Miller, as No. 596, in the Moravian Hymn Book, 1789. In the 1801 ed. (1849, No. 1003) it begins, “Since Jesus dy'd, my guilty soul to save."
iv. Der Tag ist hin, mein Jesu, bei mir bleibe. Evening. Founded on St. Luke xxiv. 29. 1680, p. 15, in 6 stanzas entitled, "The Christian returning thanks at eventide." In the Unverfälschter Liedersegen, 1851, No. 512. The translations are: (1) "The Day is gone, come Jesu my Protector." In the Supplement to German Psalmody, ed. 1765, p. 72. (2) "The day is past, Thou Saviour dear, still dwell my breast within." By H. J. Buckoll, 1842, p. 82. (3) "The day is gone, abide with me tonight." By E. Massie, 1867, p. 192. (4) "The day is gone, abide with me, 0 Jesus." By R. Massie, in the Day of Rest, 1877.
v. Grosser Prophete, mein Herze begehret. Love to Christ. Founded on 1 Cor. xvi. 22. 1680, p. 191, in 4 stanzas. Translated as “Heavenly Prophet, my Heart is desiring." By J. C. Jacobi, 1720, p. 40.
vi. Jehovah ist mein Licht und Gnadensonne. God's Perfections. Founded on 1 John i. 7. 1680, p. 19 in 4 stanzas, entitled, "Walking in the Light." Translated as, "Jehovah is my light, salvation showing." By Dr. H. Mills, 1845 (1856, p. 6).
vii. 0 allerhöchster Menschenhüter. Morning. A hymn of praise to our Almighty Preserver. 1680, p. 11, in 6 stanzas, founded on Ps. lix. 16; and entitled, "The Christian singing at Morning." Translated as, "O Thou Most Highest! Guardian of mankind." By Miss Winkworth, 1858, p. 72.
viii. Unser Herrscher, unser König. Thanksgiving. Founded on Acts
viii. 2. 1680, p. 147, in 6 stanzas, entitled, "The glorious Jehovah." In the Unverfälschter Liedersegen 1851, No. 344. The well-known melody (in the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge Church Hymns called Munich) is also by Neander, and appeared along with the hymn. Translated as, "Sovereign Ruler, King victorious," in the British Herald, Dec, 1865, p. 185, and Reid's Praise Book, 1872.
ix. Wie fleucht dahin der Menschenzeit. For the Dying. A powerful hymn on the vanity of the earthly, founded on Ps. xc. 12. 1680, p. 174, in 7 stanzas, entitled, "He that counts his days." In the Unverfälschter Liedersegen, 1851, No. 845. The translations are: (1) "This life is like a flying dream" (beginning with st. ii. "Das Leben ist gleich wie ein Traum"). By Mrs. Findlater, in Hymns from the Land of Luther, 1858, p. 24 (1884, p. 146). (2) "Though hastening onward to the grave." By E. Massie, 1867, p. 36.
x. Wo soil ich hin? wer helfet mir? Lent. Founded on Romans vii. 24. 1680, p. 51, in 5 st. entitled “The distressed one longing for Redemption." In the Unverfälschter Liedersegen, 1851, No. 393. The translations are: (1) "For help, O whither shall I flee." By Dr. H. Mills, 1845 (1856, p. 146). (2) "How shall I get there? who will aid?" By Miss Warner, 1858, p. 52.
xi. Wunderbarer König. Thanksgiving. Founded on Ps. cl. 6. 1680, p. 159, in 4 stanzas, entitled, "Inciting oneself to the Praise of God." In the Unverfälschter Liedersegen, 1851, No. 787. The melody, a very fine one (called by Mr. Mercer Groningen), is also by Neander, and appeared along with the hymn. The translations are: (1) "Wonderful Creator." By J. C. Jacobi, 1722, p. 88. (2) "Wonderful and blessed." By J. D. Burns in his Memoir and Remains, 1869, p. 230. (3) "Wondrous King Almighty." By N. L. Frothingham, 1870, p. 266. [Rev. James Mearns, M.A.]
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)