Assist Me to Proclaim: The Life and Hymns of Charles Wesley
John R. Tyson
Charles Wesley (1707–1788) was the cofounder of Methodism and the author of more than 9,000 hymns and sacred poems, including such favorites as “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing,” “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” and “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today.” John Tyson here traces the remarkable life of this influential man from cradle to grave, using rare — including previously unpublished — hymns, letters, and journal materials.
“This book will be an indispensable addition to the library of any serious student of the Wesleys.” —Thomas C. Oden
As the younger brother of John Wesley, Charles was a vital partner in the Methodist revival. While often standing in the shadow of his more famous brother, Charles Wesley was arguably the founder of the Oxford Holy Club, and he actually experienced evangelical conversion three days prior to John. In Assist Me to Proclaim Tyson explores, among other things, behind-the-scenes questions about the brothers’ sometimes-stormy relationship.
Notwithstanding all his accomplishments as an evangelist and itinerant preacher, Charles is chiefly remembered for his startling facility at writing hymns that show God at work in almost every instance of life. His remarkable legacy endures around the world, as hundreds of Charles Wesley hymns are still sung in churches everywhere today.
Assist Me to Proclaim draws a picture of a man whose fidelity to both the Church of England and the original vision of Methodism energized his remarkable abilities as a revivalist and hymn writer. Readers also get a glimpse into Wesley’s heart and mind through the window of his hymn texts. This is a biography that any student of church history or hymnody will welcome.
John R. Tyson is professor of church history and director of United Methodist Studies at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, Rochester, New York.
Thomas C. Oden
— editor of the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture series
“The most thorough biography of Charles Wesley available. It is based on rigorous knowledge of the extensive primary sources (journals, poetry, hymns, letters, ephemera), and it establishes John Tyson as the preeminent living interpreter of Charles Wesley. An inspiring and informative read, this book will be an indispensable addition to the library of any serious student of the Wesleys.”
— Duke Divinity School
“John Tyson’s biography of Charles Wesley, the great lyrical theologian of the Anglican heritage, bears all the marks of a quarter century of sustained study. Balance, more than anything else, characterizes this accessible yet richly textured portrait. History never dominates theology. Tyson intimately connects the profoundly personal dimension of Wesley’s journey of faith to the two communities that shaped his life and poetry — his family and the Methodist societies. Wesley’s hymns birthed Methodism as much as any other force and certainly remain his greatest legacy, but Tyson’s judicious use of material from Wesley’s letters, journals, and sermons adds color and texture to his portrait. Would that more people knew about Charles Wesley — an amazing herald of love divine. If you do not know Wesley, this is a good place to start. If you seek to know more about him, this volume will enrich your knowledge and love of this ‘sweet singer’ of Methodism.”
— Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University
“A very well written, accessible biography by a scholar steeped in the Charles Wesley texts. . . . What is especially appealing in this book, beyond Tyson’s mastery of the texts, is his carefully nuanced account of Charles Wesley’s relationships with family, friends, and colleagues in the evangelical revival — an account of friendships so strong that they could persist through deep and publicly stated theological differences. . . . A delight to read. Highly commended to readers.”
“Readers will be delighted with this insightful biography. . . . Highly recommended”
“Tyson’s biography is an accessible and rewarding addition.”
Reformed Theological Review
“This book will fill out readers’ understanding of Charles Wesley as a person and make us even more receptive to the huge musical and spiritual legacy he has left behind.”