Charles Wesley was born in Epworth, Lincolnshire on December 18, 1707. His mother, Susannah, gave all of her many children a rigorous classical education, which included learning Latin and Greek. Charles later attended Christ Church, Oxford, and graduated with a degree in classical languages and literature. He was ordained in the Church of England, and in 1735, he and his brother John sailed to the North American colony of Georgia as missionaries. But the venture was a disaster, and the brothers soon returned to England, defeated and discouraged.
What ended up being the lasting legacy of this miserable voyage resulted from the presence on the ship of a group of Moravian Christians who often sang hymns together. This was something Charles was not used to hearing; the Anglican churches of that time had choirs that provided music for services, but there was no congregational singing. The Moravians inspired Charles to write hymns that could be sung by anyone, not just trained vocalists. By the time of his death in 1788, Charles had written more than six thousand hymns, many of which are among the most familiar and best-loved in Christendom.