Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Hymn—And Can It Be

This week’s hymn text was written by Charles Wesley, the author of over 6000 hymns. (Yes, 6000!) He was born in England in 1707 and died in 1788. Charles and his brother John were the founders of the Methodist movement and went on a mission trip to America during the First Great Awakening with the celebrity preacher of the day, George Whitefield.

“And Can It Be” was the first hymn Wesley wrote after his conversion, just two days after, in fact. Upon his conversion in May, 1738, he wrote in his journal, “At midnight I gave myself to Christ, assured that I was safe, whether sleeping or waking. I had the continual experience of His power to overcome all temptation, and I confessed with joy and surprise that He was able to do exceedingly abundantly for me above what I can ask or think . . . I now found myself at peace with God, and rejoiced in hope of loving Christ. I saw that by faith I stood.” This hymn describes Wesley’s thoughts and feelings upon being set free in Christ.

The composer of the tune was Thomas Campbell. We know nothing about him except that he was born in 1800, died in 1876, and published twenty-three of his hymn tunes, including this one, in an 1825 tunebook, Bouquet. The name of this tune is Sagina, and the the meter is L M D~~long meter double, which translates to four lines of eight syllables each repeated for a total of eight lines.

Enjoy this marvelous hymn here:


  1. I thought Charles Wesley remained an Anglican and that it was really John who had to do with Methodism.

  2. Hmmmm . . . Not according to my sources. Of course, John was the main theologian and Charles did all the hymn writing.


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