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

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)

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 (225)sort descendingAsAuthority LanguagesInstances
A charge to keep I haveJ. Wesley (Author)English1
A poor, blind child, I wander hereJohn Wesley (Author)2
Al trono majestuoso del Dios omnipotenteJohn Wesley (Alterer)Spanish1
And can it be that I should gainJohn Wesley (Author)English89
Arm me with thy whole armor, LordJohn Wesley (Author)English4
As through this wilderness I strayJohn Wesley (Author)2
Author of life divineJ. Wesley (Author)English7
Awed by a mortal's frownJohn Wesley (Author)2
Before Jehovah's awful throneJohn Wesley (Alterer)English72
Beth yw'r udgorn glywai'n seinio?J. W. (Author (stanza 1))Welsh1
Blessing and honor, praise and loveJ. Wesley (Author)English2
Brethren in Christ and well belovedJ. Wesley (Author)English1
برك يا رب رداJohn Wesley (Author)Arabic1
Bydd mrydd o ryfeddodauJ. W. (Author (stanza 2))Welsh1
Called in the morning of their dayJohn Wesley (Author)3
Christ, the Lord is risen today, Sons of men and angels sayJ. W. (Author)English2
Clodforwch Frenin nefoedd fryRev. John Wesley (Translator)1
Come all who truly bear the name of Christ your LordJ. Wesley (Author)English1
Come, blessed Savior from aboveJ. Wesley (Translator)English4
Come, O thou Prophet of the LordJohn Wesley (Author)English3
Come, Savior, Jesus, from aboveJohn Wesley (1703-91) (Translator)English47
Come to judgment, come awayJohn Wesley (Author)English2
Come, we that love the Lord, And let our joys be knownJohn Wesley (Alterer)English14
Come, ye weary sinners, come, All who groan beneath your loadRev. John Wesley, 1703-1791 (Author)English1
Comfort, ye ministers of grace, Comfort, the people of your LordJ. Wesley (Author)English1
Commit thou all that grieves theeJohn Wesley, 1703-1791 (Translator)English1
Commit thou all thy griefsJohn Wesley (Author)English132
Creator Spirit, by Whose aidJohn Wesley (Adapter)English1
Dàl fi, fy Nuw, dàl fi i'r lànRev. John Wesley (Translator)Welsh1
Dame la fe de mi JesúsJohn Wesley, 1703-1791 (Translator)Spanish1
Deus perto está! O seu quererJohn Wesley (1703- 1791) (Translator)Portuguese2
Over the gloomy hills of darknessJ. W. (Translator)English1
Dust and ashes though we beJohn Wesley (Author)2
Do all the good you can, By all the means you canJohn Wesley (Author (attributed to))English, Spanish4
Entrega o teu viverJohn Wesley (1703-1791) (Translator)Portuguese2
Eternal Beam of light divineJohn Wesley (Author)English1
Eternal depth of love divineJohn Wesley (Author)English30
Eternal Power! whose high abodeJ. Wesley (Author)English3
Eternal Son, eternal loveJohn Wesley, 1703-91 (Author)English2
Eternal, spotless Lamb of GodJohn Wesley (Author)English2
Extended on a cursed treeJohn Wesley (Author)English39
Father, God, we glorify Thy love to Adam's seedJohn Wesley (Author)1
Father, if justly still we claimJohn Wesley, 1703-91 (Alterer)English1
Father of all, whose powerful voiceJohn Wesley (Author)English13
Father, thine everlasting graceJohn Wesley (Author)4
Father, 'tis Thine each day to yield Thy children's wants a fresh supplyJ. Wesley (Author)English5
For ever here my rest shall beJohn Wesley (Author)English1
For zeal I sigh, for zeal I pantJohn Wesley (Author)2
Fountain of good, all blessing flowsJohn Wesley (Author)English6
From all that dwell below the skiesJohn Wesley (Author)English25
Give to the winds thy fearsJohn Wesley (Translator)English343
Giver and Lord of life, whose powerJohn Wesley (Author)English6
Glorious and blessed GodJohn Wesley (Author)English2
Glory to God, whose sovereign graceJohn Wesley (Author)English14
Granted is the Savior's prayerJohn Wesley (Author)English1
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)English3
He dies! the friend of sinners dies!J. Wesley (Alterer)English11
He sleeps, and from his open sideJohn Wesley (Author)English1
Here's love and grief beyond degreeJohn Wesley (Alterer)English1
High on His everlasting throneJohn Wesley (Author)English26
Ho, everyone that thirsts, draw nighJohn Wesley (Author)English27
Holy Ghost [God], we offer hereJohn Wesley (Author)English2
Holy Lamb and Prince of PeaceJohn Wesley (Translator)English1
Holy Lamb, who Thee receiveRev. John Wesley, 1703-1791 (Translator)English12
How can it be, Thou heavenly KingJohn Wesley (Author)English11
How happy are thy servants, LordJ. Wesley (Author)1
How happy is the pilgrim's lotJohn Wesley (Author)English119
How weak the thoughts and vainJohn Wesley (Author)1
I call the world's Redeemer mineJohn Wesley (Author)English1
I come, Thou wounded Lamb of GodJohn Wesley (Author)English7
I long to behold Him arrayedJ. Wesley (Author)English1
I thank thee, uncreated SunJ. Wesley (Author)English17
I thirst, Thou wounded Lamb of GodJohn Wesley (Author)English71
ReadingsJohn Wesley (Author)English2
Ich bin ein Pilger in der WeltJohn Wesley (Author)German1
In every land begin the songJohn Wesley (Author)English1
Into thy gracious hands I fallJohn Wesley (Author)English28
Is there a thing beneath the sunJohn Wesley (Translator)English3
Jesu, behold the wise from farJohn Wesley (Author)English1
Jesus, whose glory's streaming raysJohn Wesley (Author)English7
Jesus, amor que vai alémJohn Wesley (1703-1791) (Translator)Portuguese2
Jesus, be endless praise to TheeJohn Wesley (Translator)English5
Jesus, friend of sinners hearJ. W. (Author)English1
Jesus, full of truth and loveRev. John Wesley, 1703-1791 (Author)English5
Jesus, I know, hath died for meJohn Wesley (Translator)English23
Jesus is glorified And gives the Comforter his SpiritJ. Wesley (Author)English1
Jesus, let thy sufferings ease usJohn Wesley, 1703-91 (Author)1
Jesus, lover of my soul, Let me to Thy bosom flyJ. W. (Author)English1
Jesus, my Savior, Brother, FriendJohn Wesley (Author)English39
Jesus, the Lord, our righteousnessJohn Wesley (Author)English3
Jesus, Thou source of calm reposeJohn Wesley (Author)English35
Jesus, thou wounded Lamb of GodJohn Wesley (Translator)2
Jesus, Thy blood and righteousnessJohn Wesley, 1703-1791 (Translator)English345
Jesus, Thy boundless love to meJohn Wesley (Author)English262
Jesus, thy light again I viewJohn Wesley (Author)3
Jesus, thy spotless righteousnessJohn Wesley (Author)English3
Jesus, to thee my heart I bowJohn Wesley (Translator)1
Jesus, transporting sound!John Wesley, 1703-91 (Author)English1
Jesus, what offering shall I giveJohn Wesley (Author)3
Lamb of God, who Thee receiveJohn Wesley (Author)English13
Leave to his sovereign swayJohn Wesley (Author)1
Let Him to whom we now belongRev. John Wesley (Author)English1
Lo! God is here: let us adoreRev. John Wesley (1703-1791) (Translator)English116
Lo! He comes with clouds descending, Once for guilty sinners slainJohn Wesley (Revised by)English4
Lord, dismiss us with Thy blessing, Bid us now depart in peaceJ. Wesley (Translator)English1
Lord, I am not mine, but yours aloneJohn Wesley (Author)English2
Lord, I believe thy precious bloodJohn Wesley (Author)2
Lord, I believe were sinners moreJohn Wesley (Translator)English6
Lord over all, sent to fulfillJohn Wesley (Author)English2
Lord, take my heart, and let it beJohn Wesley (Translator)English5
Lord, thy imputed righteousnessJohn Wesley (Author)4
Meek, patient Lamb of God, to theeJohn Wesley (Translator)English2
Messiah, Prince of PeaceJohn Wesley (Author)English1
Monarch of all, with humble fearJohn Wesley (Author)2
More hard than marble is my heartJohn Wesley (Author)1
My God, the spring of all my joysJohn Wesley (Alterer)English1
My Savior, how shall I proclaimJohn Wesley (Author)English13
My Savior, Thou Thy love to meJohn Wesley (Author)English15
My soul before Thee prostrate liesJohn Wesley (Translator (from German))English19
My soul, watch and prayJohn Wesley (Author)2
Not alone, O blessed JesusJohn Wesley (Author)English1
Now I have found the ground whereinJohn Wesley, 1703-1791 (Translator)English104
Now I have found the sure foundationJohn Wesley (Translator)English2
Now, O my God, thou hast my soulJohn Wesley (Author)2
Now to the Lord a noble song! Awake, my soul, awake, my tongueJ. Wesley (Author)English1
Ó, Deus, meu Deus, tu és meu tudoJohn Wesley (1703-1791) (Author)Portuguese2
O draw me, Father, after TheeJohn Wesley (Author)English9
Ó filho eterno, eterno amorJohn Wesley (1703-1791) (Author)Portuguese2
O for a thousand tongues to sing My dear Redeemer's praiseJohn Wesley (Author)English1
O glorious hope of perfect loveJohn Wesley (Author)English1
O God, my God, in whom combineJohn Wesley (Translator)2
O God, my God, my all Thou artJohn Wesley (Author)English18
O God of all graceJ. Wesley (Author)English1
O God of gods, in whom combineJohn Wesley, 1703-91 (Translator)1
O God of good, the unfathomed seaJohn Wesley (Author)English23
O God, our help in ages pastJohn Wesley (Alterer)English1
O God, thou sovereign Lord of allWesley (Author)1
O God, what offering shall I giveJohn Wesley (Author)English38
O Jesus, we adore Thee, Upon the cross our KingJ. Wesley (Author)English3
O King of glory, Thy rich graceJohn Wesley (Translator)English6
O Lord, enlarge our scanty thoughtJohn Wesley, 1703-91 (Translator)English2
O Lord Thy [Thine] everlasting graceJ. Wesley (Translator)English2
O Lord, within thy sacred gatesJohn Wesley (Author)2
O love, how cheering is Thy rayJohn Wesley (Author)English7
O God, thou bottomless abyss!John Wesley (Author)English40
O Love, Thou fathomless abyssJ. Wesley (Translator)English1
O love, thy sovereign aid impartJohn Wesley (Author)English2
O Sun of righteousness, arise With healing in Thy wingJohn Wesley (Author)English54
O Thou, to whose all-searching sightJohn Wesley (1703-1791) (Translator)English114
O Thou who all things canst controlJ. Wesley (Translator)English16
O what shall I do my Savior to praiseJ. W. (Author)English1
Oh Fuente oculta de solazJohn Wesley, 1703-1791 (Tr. ingl.)Spanish2
Olvida tu pesarJohn Wesley, 1707-1888 (Transaltor (English))Spanish4
Omnipotent, Lord, my Savior and kingJ. W. (Author)English1
On all the earth Thy Spirit showerJ. Wesley (Alterer)English3
Our Lord is risen from the dead, Our Jesus is gone up on highJohn Wesley (Author)English1
Parent of good, Thy bounteous handJohn Wesley (Translator)English2
Praise to the Father beJohn Wesley (Author)English1
Put thou thy trust in GodJohn Wesley (Translator)English27
Regardless now of things belowJohn Wesley (Author)English2
Riches unsearchable in Jesu's love we knowJohn Wesley (Author)2
Righteous God, whose vengeful vialsJohn Wesley (Author)English1
Savior of men, Thy searching eyeJ. Wesley (Translator)English13
Servant of God, well done! Thy glorious warfare's pastJohn Wesley (Author)English1
Shall I, for fear of feeble man, The Spirit's course in me restrain?John Wesley (Author)English60
Shepherd divine, our wants relieveJohn Wesley (1703-1791) (Author)English2
Sinners, lift up your heartsRev. John Wesley, 1703-1791 (Author)English1
Sinners, rejoice, your peace is madeJohn Wesley (Author)1
Sinners! turn, why will ye die? God, your Maker, asks you why?J. Wesley (Author)English3
Son of thy Sire's eternal loveJohn Wesley (Author)English3
Spirit of peace and love and power!J. Wesley (Author)English11
Still nigh me, O my Savior, standJ. Wesley (1703-1791) (Adapter (verses 2 and 3))English1
I'll praise my Maker with my breathJohn Wesley (Alterer)English27
Summoned my labor to renewJ. Wesley (Author)English1
Surrounded by a host of foesJohn Wesley (Author)English1
Take, Lord, all self from me, that IJohn Wesley (Author)2
Take my poor heart, closed let it beJ. Wesley (Translator)English2
Teach me, my God and King, In all things Thee to seeJohn Wesley (Adapter)English31
Teu insondável, santo amorJohn Wesley (Translator)Portuguese2
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)English3
Thee, Jesus, full of truth and graceJ. Wesley (Author)English1
Thee will I love, my Strength, my Tower, Thee will I love my joy, my crown (Wesley)John Wesley (orro)English96
Thine, Lord, is wisdom, thine aloneJohn Wesley (Author)English10
Thou hidden love of God, Whose heightJohn Wesley (Translator)English122
Thou, Jesus art our King!John Wesley (Translator)English1
Thou Lamb of God, thou Prince of PeaceJohn Wesley (Author)English18
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)English7
Thou Shepherd of Israel, and mineJohn Wesley (Author)English2
Thou, true and only God, leadest forthJohn Wesley (Author)English12
Thou very paschal LambJ. W (Author)English5
Though waves and storms go over my headJohn Wesley (Translator)English20
Through waves, through [and] clouds and stormsJ. Wesley (Translator)English6
Thy ceaseless, unexhausted loveCharles Wesley, 1707-1788 (Author)English1
Thy everlasting truthJohn Wesley (Translator)English2
Thy parent hand, thy forming skillJohn Wesley (Author)6
To God, the Father, Son, And Spirit, glory beJohn Wesley (Author)English1
To God the Father, Son, And Spirit One in ThreeRev. John Wesley, 1703-1791 (Author)English16
To God the Father, Son, And Spirit, Three in OneJohn Wesley (Author)English3
To God the Father, Son, And Spirit One and ThreeJohn Wesley (Author)English10
To God we lift our heartsJohn Wesley (Author)English1
To heart and soul how fair Thou artJohn Wesley (Translator)English2
To thee, O Lord, with humble fearJohn Wesley (Author)1
Unchangeable all-perfect LordJohn Wesley (Author)English2
Unclean of life and heart uncleanJ. Wesley (Author)English5
Uphold me in the doubtful raceJohn Wesley (Author)2
We lift our hearts to Thee, Thou Day-Star from on high!John Wesley (Author)English112
We pray thee, wounded Lamb of GodRev. John Wesley, 1703-91 (Translator)3
Wealth, honor, pleasure, and what elseJohn Wesley (Author)English6
Wenn ich im Geist das Kreuz erblickJohn Wesley (Author)German1
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)English10
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)English2
Ye neighbors and friends of Jesus, draw nearJ. Wesley (Author)English1
Ye simple souls, that strayJohn Wesley (Author)English40
Ye virgin souls, ariseJohn Wesley (Author)English1
Your lofty themes, ye mortals, bringJohn Wesley (Author)English1

See also...

Suggestions or corrections? Contact us