Scholarly study of Charles Wesley has been hampered by uneven access to the significant body of verse that he left in manuscript at his death, most of which is still extant. This body of verse includes both manuscript precursors to many items in Wesley’s published collections and over 4,420 distinct new hymns and poems that remained unpublished at his death.

George Osborn included portions of this material in his 13-volume collection of The Poetical Works of John and Charles Wesley (1868-72). But Osborn did not distinguish between published and manuscript items, which is one of the features of his collection that restricts its adequacy as a standard source (see the John Wesley page for more information).

More recently, S T Kimbrough Jr. and Oliver A. Beckerlegge published a 3-volume collection of Unpublished Poetry of Charles Wesley (1988-92), which dramatically increased scholarly access to Wesley's manuscript verse. While very helpful, as the title indicates, this collection does not include surviving manuscript drafts for hymns that Charles Wesley published during his lifetime and reproduces manuscript items in Osborn’s collection only if his version is incomplete.

The present online collection of the poetical works of John and Charles Wesley is committed to providing as broad and convenient of access as possible for scholarly study and citation. This subsection of the collection contributes to that goal by presenting all of the known surviving manuscript verse of Charles Wesley (in transcriptions or by notation). It includes the large collection of the Methodist Archive and Research Centre at The John Rylands University Library in Manchester, England, as well as scattered manuscript items at a number of other sites.

The manuscripts are presented in accordance with a set of guidelines, listed on this page, to maximize reliability and usefulness. They are organized below in broad topical groupings.

A list of the short titles and abbreviations (pdf) for Wesley publications that are used throughout this collection is available.

Citation Guidelines

Citation guidelines are available on the Research Resources page.

Texts

The texts are in (pdf) format that is searchable using Adobe Reader 7.0 and above.

Transcripts of Manuscript Verse

Zipped file containing a complete set of transcripts (.zip file)

Assorted Looseleaf Manuscript Verse

General Collections

MS Cheshunt
MS Clarke
MS Drew
MS Epistles
MS Festivals
MS Hymns for Love
MS Intercession
MS Malefactors
MS Miscellaneous Hymns
MS Miscellaneous Hymns (drafts)
MS Miscellaneous Verse 1786
MS Occasional Hymns
MS Preparation for Death
MS Richmond
MS Richmond Tracts
MS Shent
MS Shorthand Verse
MS Six
MS Thirty

Courtship and Family Collections

MS Courtship
MS Deliberative Hymns
MS Epistle to Martha Wesley
MS Family
MS Friendship I
MS Friendship II
MS Helen Durbin
MS Hymns for Wedding Anniversaries
MS Ludlow
MS Nursery
MS Prayer for Truth
MS Prayer for Truth (drafts)
MS Samuel Wesley, R.C.
MS Sarah Wesley
MS Travail
[Note: MS Miscellaneous Poems, below in Political Verse, contains some verse on sons]

Illness, Death, and Funeral Hymns

MS Funeral Hymns (1756-87)
MS Baker
MS Death of Ebenezer Blackwell
MS Death of Elizabeth Blackwell
MS Death of Prudence Box
MS Death of Hannah Butts
MS Funeral Hymns for Hannah Butts
MS Death of Hannah Dewal (drafts 1 & 2)
MS Death of Bartholomew Gallatin (drafts 1 & 2)
MS Henderson
MS Hendrix
MS Death of William Hitchens
MS Death of Mary Horton (drafts 1, 2, & 3)
MS Death of John Matthews (drafts 1 & 2)
MS Death of Dr. John Middleton (drafts 1 & 2)
MS Death of Thomas Waller (drafts 1 & 2)
MS Death of Charles Worgan (drafts 1 & 2)
MS Sarah Bulgin
MS Small Pox
Charles Wesley on his own death

Lay Preacher and Ordination Related Verse

Assorted Verse on 1784 Ordinations
MS Address to a Friend
MS Brothers
MS Ordinations
MS Preachers
MS Preachers 1779
MS Preachers 1786
MS Preachers 1786 (drafts)
MS Preachers Extraordinary
MS Revd -
MS Tribute to John Wesley

Political Verse

MS American Loyalists 1783
MS Charles James Fox 1784
MS Howe (drafts 1 & 2)
MS Hymn for King George 1769
MS Hymns for King and Queen 1780
MS Hymn for the King 1784
MS Miscellaneous Poems
MS Patriotism
MS Patriotism (drafts)
MS Protestant Association

Scripture Collections

MS Acts
MS Fish (includes MS Emory)
MS John
MS Luke
MS Mark
MS Matthew
MS Psalms
MS Scriptural Hymns (OT)
MS Scriptural Hymns (NT)

Translations of Latin Classics

Verse in Manuscript Letters

Guidelines for Presentation of Manuscript Verse

This online collection is intended to provide a standard source for scholarly study and citation of the poetical works of John and Charles Wesley. The section containing verse that Charles Wesley left in manuscript was developed under the following guidelines to maximize reliability and usefulness.

  1. A comprehensive list of the surviving manuscript verse of Charles Wesley was compiled by consulting all known holding locations, electronic databases, and previous scholarship on this material. In this process, two items were discovered that have never been published previously: MS Hymn for King George 1769, and MS Tribute to John Wesley.
  2. The manuscript materials were analyzed first to determine whether they were in Charles Wesley’s hand, or produced by a scribe under his direction. Some manuscript materials in the various holding locations are of nineteenth-century origin, or simply derivative copies of items that Charles Wesley had published. Such derivative items are generally omitted from this online collection. However, we include items like MS Family, where Wesley copied a selection of previously published hymns for use in family devotions.
  3. In a few instances we have added to this collection items for which no manuscript copy survives in Charles Wesley’s hand. We do so only when there is significant contemporary warrant for judging that Wesley authored the piece. This warrant is cited on each occasion. For a couple of examples, see MS Epistle to Martha Wesley and MS Tribute to John Wesley.
  4. A significant portion of the manuscript verse in the collections are drafts of hymns that Charles Wesley published during his lifetime. Access to this material remains significant to scholars, because it gives a sense of Wesley’s typical patterns of spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and the like. The manuscript drafts also often contain variant readings or reflect (through strike-outs and corrections) Wesley’s process of composing the verse. The present site provides access to this class of manuscript verse in three ways:
    1. It includes transcripts of all notebook-length collections of such verse—see particularly, MS Cheshunt, MS Clarke, MS Friendship I, MS Friendship II, MS Shent, MS Six, and MS Thirty.
    2. If looseleaf manuscript copies of hymns that Wesley published contain a significant number of variants or revisions, they too are present as transcripts.
    3. Looseleaf manuscript copies of hymns that Wesley published which contain few variants or revisions are identified in footnotes at their published location (elsewhere on this site), with any significant variants identified there in footnotes.
  5. The largest portion of manuscript verse still extant remained unpublished during Wesley’s life. The present site presents nearly all of this verse in transcript form. The main exception is looseleaf verse that is also present in notebook-length collections, with minimal variants. Once again, such looseleaf copies are indicated by footnotes in their larger location. Where multiple copies reflect Wesley’s process of revision (such as the three drafts of MS Death of Mary Horton), all copies are present as transcripts in this collection.
  6. The various manuscript materials are represented, as much as possible, in their original format and context—as parts of notebook collections, as hymns inserted in letters to family or friends, as looseleaf drafts or copies, and so on. We also reflect original page breaks and Wesley’s numbering of pages as much as possible (identifying instances of departure, when this is deemed necessary).
  7. Wesley’s original spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and marking of emphasis are generally retained in the transcripts. The one significant exception is that Wesley resorted to frequent contractions and abbreviations in the manuscripts. These have been quietly expanded, to facilitate both reading and search capabilities.
    List of Wesley’s common contractions and abbreviations (pdf)
  8. Other than quietly expanding contractions and abbreviations, all editorial emendations to the text are indicated by placement in [square brackets]. Informational notes that Wesley provided in the original text are reflected on the main part of the page. Material in footnotes is by the editors of this collection.
  9. A significant percentage of Wesley’s manuscript verse contains instances of Wesley striking out and replacing original wording during composition or editing, as well as suggested alternative readings in the column. These changes and suggestions are reflected in editorial footnotes in this collection. We indicate Wesley’s original wording, unless his strike-out has rendered it illegible.
  10. There are several instances of Wesley deploying shorthand in his manuscripts that he learned from John Byrom. In some cases entire documents are in shorthand; in many cases Wesley uses shorthand for his corrections and additions to longhand verse. Deciphering this shorthand is a major challenge. We have enlisted the skill of Dr. Timothy Underhill, a specialist on Byrom’s shorthand, to render such passages as reliably as possible. Often this task was aided by consulting renderings done by earlier scholars like Elijah Hoole, Oliver Beckerlegge, and S T Kimbrough. In transcripts of shorthand passages, uncertain renderings are typically placed in {pointed brackets}.
  11. While Wesley left much of his manuscript verse unpublished, it found a variety of publication settings after his death. John Wesley began the process, inserting several items in the Arminian Magazine. Three later scholarly settings of posthumous publication are particularly noteworthy:
    • George Osborn, ed. The Poetical Works of John and Charles Wesley. 13 vols. London: Wesleyan-Methodist Conference, 1868–72.
    • Frank Baker. Representative Verse of Charles Wesley. London: Epworth,1962.
    • S T Kimbrough Jr. & Oliver A. Beckerlegge, eds. The Unpublished Poetry of Charles Wesley. 3 vols. Nashville: Kingswood Books, 1988–92.

Citation of posthumous publication in these three sources, by short title, is included in the annotation of every manuscript item in this online collection. Readers should note, however, that the text presented in Osborn will often differ from that presented here, since Osborn frequently “improved” upon Charles’s spelling and other aspects of the manuscript poetry.

  1. In addition to identifying such posthumous publication, the current holding location of the original manuscript, and cross reference to all manuscript copies of individual items, we also provide basic introductory and explanatory annotations for Wesley’s manuscript verse as deemed necessary.