Celebrating Charles Wesley at 300

September 26, 2007

Charles Wesley's 300th birthday was celebrated at Epworth on Sunday, September 23. Not the village of his birth in England, but Epworth UMC in Berkeley. Fifteen (Count 'em!) Charles Wesley hymns were sung, read, quoted, printed, interpreted, paraphrased or recalled to memory by subliminal suggestion in a service designed by Gerald Asheim, church musician, and Donna Hamilton, a Certified Lay Speaker specifically qualified in liturgy and hymnody. Asheim and Hamilton are both members of The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada.


Helpful to the planning of the service was “A Heart to Praise My God: Wesley Hymns for Today,” by S. T. Kimbrough, Jr., Wesley scholar and headliner of the Global Praise music team – guests at the California-Nevada Annual Conference Session in June.


Also consulted were online resources such as www.gbod.org, the Web site of the General Board of Discipleship, where the section on worship offers articles, downloadable items and links to other sites to help your church plan its own celebration of Charles Wesley. His actual date of birth, December 18, falls near an occasion for singing his best-known hymn, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!” But other opportunities for using some of Charles Wesley's other poems and hymns, estimated to number more than 9,000, will give your congregation, too, a chance to say, “Happy Birthday, Charles Wesley.”


Learn more about The Hymn Society and its July 2008 conference in Berkeley at www.hymnsociety.org.


Contact Jerry Asheim and Donna Hamilton to consult on your Charles Wesley celebration by emailing epworth@lmi.net.