Teaching Students About Charles Wesley’s Hymns

Charles Wesley, a celebrated hymn writer of the 18th century and co-founder of the Methodist movement, has penned over 6,000 hymns that continue to resonate with people worldwide. Integrating his works into educational programs can provide students with valuable insights into religious, historical, and cultural subject matters. In this article, we explore how educators can incorporate Charles Wesley’s hymns into their teaching approach.

Step 1: Introducing Charles Wesley’s Life and Impact

When teaching about Charles Wesley, begin by introducing his life and achievements to the students. Share information on his work as an evangelist, his contributions to the Methodist movement founded by his brother John Wesley, and his impact on sacred music. Explore the historical context of the 18th century England in which he lived to provide a background for understanding his hymns.

Step 2: Analyzing Hymn Lyrics

Select a variety of Charles Wesley hymns for your students to study. Ensure that these cover different themes and styles that represent his vast repertoire. Encourage your students to read through the lyrics before listening to the music.

Ask your students to analyze the lyrics for:

– The theme/message of each hymn

– Imagery and use of metaphor

– Any biblical references or allusions

Guide your students in unpacking these components to better appreciate Charles Wesley’s linguistic artistry and theological depth.

Step 3: Reviewing Musical Compositions

Once students have studied the lyrics, explore with them the musical arrangements accompanying these words. Discuss how melody, rhythm, harmony, tempo, and dynamics contribute to the hymn’s overall mood and impact. Whenever applicable, introduce different settings or arrangements of a particular hymn to highlight its versatility.

Step 4: Delving into Historical Influence

Investigate how Charles Wesley’s hymns reflect societal issues and values of 18th-century England. Allow students to compare and contrast Wesley’s hymns with other artistic creations in the same period, such as poems and novels, to gain a broader understanding of the time. Moreover, discuss how Wesley’s hymns have influenced subsequent generations of religious music.

Step 5: Engaging with Hymn Singing

Organize hymn-singing sessions that involve your students. This interactive approach will allow them to experience and appreciate the power and beauty of Charles Wesley’s hymns firsthand.

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