(John Wesley died on 2 March. Because Chad is remembered then, the Wesleys are remembered on 3 March.)
The Wesley brothers, born in 1703 and 1707, were leaders of the evangelical revival in the Church of England in the eighteenth century. They both attended Oxford University, and there they gathered a few friends with whom they undertook a strict adherence to the worship and discipline of the Book of Common Prayer, from which strict observance they received the nickname, "Methodists." Having been ordained, they went to the American colony of Georgia in 1735, John as a missionary and Charles as secretary to Governor Oglethorpe. They found the experience disheartening, and returned home in a few years. There, three days apart, they underwent a conversion experience. John, present with a group of Moravians who were reading Martin Luther's Preface To the Epistle To the Romans, received a strong emotional awareness of the love of Christ displayed in freely forgiving his sins and granting him eternal life.
Following this experience, John and Charles, with others, set about to stir up in others a like awareness of and response to the saving love of God. Of the two, John was the more powerful preacher, and averaged 8000 miles of travel a year, mostly on horseback. At the time of his death he was probably the best known and best loved man in England. Charles was the better hymn-writer of the two. He wrote over 6000 hymns, including about 600 for the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. Some of the better known are the following:
O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer's praise,
the glories of my God and King,
the triumphs of his grace!
My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
to spread through all the earth abroad
the honors of thy name.
Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease;
'tis music in the sinner's ears,
'tis life, and health, and peace.
He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
his blood can make the foulest clean;
his blood availed for me.
He speaks, and listening to his voice,
New life the dead receive;
the mournful, broken hearts rejoice,
the humble poor believe.
In Christ, your head, you then shall know,
Shall feel your sins forgiven,
anticipate your heaven below,
and own that love in heaven.
It was the intention of the Wesleys and their colleagues that their "Methodist Societies" should be a group within the existing structure of the Anglican Church, but after their deaths the Societies in America, and to a lesser extent in England, developed a separate status.
Lord God, who didst inspire thy servants John and Charles Wesley With burning zeal for the sanctification of souls, and didst endow them with eloquence in speech and song: Kindle in thy Church, we beseech thee, such fervor, that those whose faith has cooled may be warmed, and those who have not known thy Christ may turn to him and be saved; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Lord God, who inspired your servants John and Charles Wesley With burning zeal for the sanctification of souls, and endowed them with eloquence in speech and song: Kindle in your Church, we entreat you, such fervor, that those whose faith has cooled may be warmed, and those who have not known Christ may turn to him and be saved; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.