Charles Wesley born DECEMBER 18, 1707

Charles WesleyAmerican Minute with Bill Federer

Charles Wesley wrote “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”

He was the 18th child of Rev. Samuel and Susanna Wesley, born DECEMBER 18, 1707, in Epworth, England.

Susanna Wesley home-schooled all her 19 children, giving them a classical education which included them learning Latin and Greek.

Charles Wesley excelled in his studies, later attending Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford, where he came to the attention of Garret Wesley, or Wellesley, a member of the British Parliament with a large fortune in Daugan, Ireland.

Having no child, Garret Wellesley offered to adopt Charles as his heir, but Charles declined.

Garret Wellesley then left his estate to his cousin Richard Colley Wellesly, who was the father of Arthur Wellesley-Duke of Wellington, famous for his role in defeating Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

Charles Wesley graduated from Oxford and sailed to the Colony of Georgia in 1732, serving as secretary to the colony’s founder, General James Oglethorpe.

General James Oglethorpe had previously, in 1717, fought 200,000 Muslim Ottoman Turks who had captured Belgrade, Serbia.

James Oglethorpe served under Austrian Prince Eugene of Savoy, one of the most famous commanders in European history for his part in defeating 200,000 Muslim Ottoman Turks who were laying siege to Vienna, Austria, September 11, 1683, and for his victory over 100.000 Muslim Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Zenta, Serbia, September 11, 1697.

James Oglethorpe returned from Serbia to England, where he entered Parliament.

In 1732, James Oglethorpe founded the Colony of Georgia in America, with Charles Wesley as his secretary and John Wesley serving as the Colony’s Anglican minister.

John and Charles Wesley’s efforts to evangelize the Indians proved more difficult than anticipated.

James Oglethorpe defended Georgia against attacks from Spanish Florida.

The John and Charles Wesley returned to England where they were befriended by a Moravian missionary named Peter Boehler who was waiting for a ship to sail for Georgia.

Peter Boehler shared with the Wesleys regarding the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which resulted in a prayer meeting at 28 Aldersgate Street and Wesley’s “Aldersgate experience” in May of 1738.

John Wesley wrote: “I felt my heart strangely warmed” and began to preach that God’s grace was ‘free for all.'”

The Wesleys influenced George Whitefield, whose preaching spread the Great Awakening Revival throughout the American colonies.

John Wesley founded the Methodist movement and Charles Wesley wrote over 6,000 hymns.

Charles Wesley penned “Hark! how all the Welkin rings” but George Whitefield changed the first line to “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”

It was put to the music of Lutheran composer Felix Mendelssohn, grandson of the notable Jewish philosopher, Moses Mendelssohn.

Around the same time 22-year-old George Washington and 20-year-old Daniel Boone were fighting for the British against the French in the French and Indian War, and miraculously protected, “Hark! the Herald Angels sing” was published in George Whitefield’s “Collection of Hymns for Social Worship,” 1754.

“Hark, the Herald Angels sing,
Glory to the new-born King,
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled.

Joyful all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th’ angelic host proclaim,
Christ is born in Bethlehem.”
Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ by highest heav’n adored,
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time, behold Him come,
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb,

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,
Hail the incarnate Deity!
Pleased as man with man to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel,
Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris’n with healing in His wings.

Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Another Christmas carol sung at that time was “Joy to the World,” written by Isaac Watts in 1707. It has become is one of the most published Christmas hymn in North America:

“Joy to the world! The Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the world! The Saviour reigns;
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

At this time in Europe, composer George Frideric Handel was at the low point of his career, having suffered partial paralysis on his left side due to a stroke.

Incredibly, beginning August 22, 1741, George Handel composed the Messiah in only 21 days, as part of a series of concerts in Dublin to benefit charities.

The premiere was met with overwhelming success. When it was performed in London, King George II stood to his feet during the singing of the “Hallelujah” Chorus.

Another popular Christmas carol first published in 1751 was “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” originally written in Latin as “Adeste Fideles” (attributed to John F. Wade, music by John Reading):

O come, all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye,
to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him,
Born the King of angels! (Chorus)

O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

God of God,
Light of Light,
Lo! he abhors not the Virgin’s womb;
Very God, Begotten not created. (Chorus)

O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation;
Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God, In the highest; (Chorus)

O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee,
Born this happy morning;
Jesu, to Thee be glory given;
Word of the Father,
Now in flesh appearing. (Chorus)

O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.


Bill FedererThe Moral Liberal Contributing Editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s bookshere.


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