Article of Title
High School:
Bold Influencer: Charles Wesley
Based on Singer of Six Thousand Songs by Elisabeth P. Meyers
Book cover
Charles Wesley, an eighteenth century poet, hymn writer, and bold leader in the Methodist movement in England, was born in 1707 to an Anglican pastor. He was one of nineteen children. Charles was home educated by his mother Susanna in his early years prior to attending Westminster School. Charles went on to earn a master’s degree from Oxford University. While at the university, Charles participated in The Holy Club with fellow students, promoting what would become the Methodist faith. In 1735, Charles and his brother, John, served a one-year mission to the British colony that is now Georgia. Though the Wesley brothers are known for their preaching, Charles is best known for his poetry and hymns. Elisabeth P. Meyers wrote her biography, Singer of Six Thousand Songs: A Life of Charles Wesley (Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1965), to introduce readers to the life of a bold gentleman who greatly influenced people’s lives and church history.
Locate Epworth, London, Oxford, Canterbury, Northampton, River Thames, Ireland, and Dublin on a map of the United Kingdom.
“…introduce readers to the life of a bold gentleman who greatly influenced people’s lives and church history.”
Define blotch, brandish, convocation, curate, defiant, devout, ecclesiastical, fervor, illiterate, meddle, mirth, nosegay, parish, rhapsodies, rectory, retort, stern, subdue, taunt, tinge, and zealot.

Arriving in London, Charles’s coach passes St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. Charles knew these places were significant to British history. Research St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. List five reasons why each of these places is historically significant to England.

The Wesley brothers minister to the Native Americans in Georgia. The book gives a glimpse into the relationship James Oglethorpe had with the Wesleys. Research the role he played in the establishment of Georgia.

When Susanna began to teach Charles at home, she opened and closed their lessons with prayer. If you are not already in the habit of beginning and ending your day in prayer, choose a day to commence this habit. Keep a prayer journal as a reminder of needs as well as answers worthy of praise. Some people record their thoughts of gratitude in their prayer journal as well. Try not to get discouraged as you begin your prayer journey. It is okay if you miss a day here and there. It takes twenty-one days to establish a new habit.

There are over forty cathedrals in England. Draw a cathedral—or build one using Styrofoam sheeting or balsa wood—that includes the important architectural features of a cathedral. Cathedral: The Story of Its Construction by David Macaulay (Sandpiper, 1981) is a helpful resource.

Charles writes poetry and begins to set his words to music. These hymns were sung at the student meetings, The Holy Club at Oxford. His better known hymns include “Christ the Lord is Risen Today”, “Jesus Lover of My Soul”, “Oh! For a Thousand Tongues to Sing”, and “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing”. Find recordings of these hymns and listen. Note the lyrics. What message is Charles communicating in each hymn? Write either a three-paragraph narrative about how one of Charles’s songs impacted you or an expository essay about how his works impacted the church.
John returns home when his father is ill. He and Charles correspond through letters. In one particular letter, John encourages Charles to “apply yourself diligently to all tasks, adopt a plan of self-examination, and pray with fervor.” Reflect on how these three practices are helpful to one’s spiritual growth. Later, in Chapter 12, Charles sits beside his father’s deathbed and talks about self-service as opposed to God-centered service. Read this section together and discuss how this poignant conversation applies to one’s service as well as to your family’s faith and beliefs.

Prisoners were suffering in severe conditions—hungry and sick. The Methodist students were bold. Encouraged by William Morgan’s enthusiasm, the students—including Charles—enter Castle Prison. They are mocked, tormented, and called names. Charles is hit in the face with a tomato. These “shows of bravery attracted other well-meaning men…among them a student named George Whitefield.” Wesley and Whitefield were raised in very different circumstances, yet were both highly influential evangelists and reformers. Read pages 78 to 80. Discuss how these men spurred one another on.

Gorgeous ceiling
Photo: The ceiling inside Westminster Abbey.
Singer of Six Thousand Songs: A Life of Charles Wesley provides fascinating details of one of history’s most prolific hymn writers and church influencers. This book is an older book but is available used. If a copy cannot be obtained, consider finding other resources about Charles Wesley. Should a high schooler have keen interest in one area of Wesley’s life, expand that study. For example, a learner interested in architecture may want to build a balsa wood cathedral, or a teen gifted in music may desire to write a hymn or study other hymn writers.

Be bold! Use this study, or any variation, to come alongside your high schooler in order to best meet and foster his or her learning style or career goals.

You’ll find several activity sheets to help you implement the ideas from our Great Books articles in our brand new Seasonal Activity Guide!