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 17… Go to person page >
Ye simple souls that stray. C. Wesley (?) [Exhortation.] First published in Hymns for those that Seek and those that Have Redemption, 1747, in 7 stanzas of 8 lines. In 1780 it was given in the Wesleyan Hymn Book, No. 21, with considerable alterations, and the omission of st. iii. The authorship of this hymn has been a matter of dispute for many years, some claiming it for John Wesley on the authority of Mr. Henry Moore, and others for Charles on the word of Dr. Whitehead. The work in which it appeared is known to have been published by the two brothers, and the contents were unsigned. Under these circumstances the difficulty of determining the authorship is great. There is some probability in the suggestion that it was written by Charles, and that the extensive alterations made therein for the Wesleyan Hymn Book, in 1780, were the work of his brother. Original text, Poetical Works, 1868-72, vol. iv. p. 230.
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)