“Where shall my wondering soul begin?”: A Historical and Theological Analysis

“Where shall my wondering soul begin?”:

A Historical and Theological Analysis[1]

 

Born on December 18, 1707 in Epworth, England, Charles Wesley grew up in an Anglican family. In 1726, he entered Christ Church College at Oxford University, where he received his BA (1730) and MA (1733). It was here in 1729 that he led the so-called “Holy Club,” a religious organization that promoted piety through a systematic study of the Bible. Yet, at this time he was not saved.

In 1735, still unconverted, Wesley was ordained priest in the Anglican Church. That same year he and his brother John (1703-1791) journeyed to the newly found colony of Georgia to start a mission work among the Indians. Their mission being unsuccessful compelled them to sail back to England. Despite this failure, however, this mission trip became memorable to the brothers. It was during this period that they met the Moravians, who made a profound impact on them conversion and on their passion for hymns.

On May 21, 1738, while living in England, Charles Wesley experienced evangelical conversion, which he expressed this way: “I now found myself at peace with God, and rejoiced in hope of loving Christ.”[2] Two days after his conversion, he wrote a song which he called “an hymn upon my conversion.”[3] It is generally believed that this conversion hymn, the first of numerous hymns that he wrote, was “Where shall my wondering soul begin?” What follows is a historical and theological analysis of this hymn, the original title of which was “Christ the Friend of Sinner.”

 

To continue reading the article, see Brian G. Najapfour, ‘“Where shall my wondering soul begin?’: A Historical and Theological Analysis,” Puritan Reformed Journal 3, no. 2 (July 2011): 291-298.


        [1] The quote is taken from the first line of the hymn whose title is also: “Where shall my wondering soul begin?” For my biographical sketch of Charles, I am indebted to J. R. Tyson, “Wesley, Charles,” in Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals, eds. Timothy Larsen, David Bebbington, and Mark A. Noll (Leicester and Illinois: Inter Varsity Press, 2003), 710-12.

        [2] The Journal of Charles Wesley (1707-1788), entry date, May 21, 1738; available from http://wesley.nnu.edu/charles-wesley/the-journal-of-charles-wesley-1707-1788/the-journal-of-charles-wesley-may-1-august-31-1738/ ; Internet; accessed 14 October  2010.

        [3] The Journal of Charles Wesley (1707-1788), entry date, May 23, 1738; available from ibid.

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Charles Wesley Hymns John Wesley

“And Can It Be”: A Historical and Theological Analysis

Originally titled “Free Grace,” this hymn is one of several hymns by Charles Wesley that is still widely sung in the present day. Although we do not know exactly when “And Can It Be” was written, it is usually associated with a very early period linked with the Charles Wesley’s conversion. Regardless of when it was written, the song clearly describes the experience of conversion and the wonder of one who is still amazed “That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?”. Tyson points out the repeated use of “for me” in this hymn as evidence of the impact of the reading of Martin Luther’s Galatians commentary.

 

The article is by Steve Weaver, pastor of Farmdale Baptist Church, Frankfort, KY. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Church History at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY.  His area of research is 17th century British Particular Baptist pastor, Hercules Collins.

Click here to read his entire article.

Charles Wesley Hymns