The Worship Quote of the Week for (02/19/2008):

"And Can It Be That I Should Gain?"
Todayís WORSHIP QUOTE is another great hymn text by Charles Wesley (1707-1788). A few interesting notes: "And Can It Be?" was written just days after Wesley's conversion and was originally entitled "Free Grace." The fifth stanza included here was part of the original poem, but was omitted from later published editions. (My 1849 HYMNAL OF THE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH does not include that verse). The tune that most of us know for this hymn, SAGINA, was written in 1825, about eighty-six years after the words were penned and thirty-two years after the poet's death. I have included the entire text here with the punctuation from my 1849 hymnal and without the repeat of lines five and six of each verse (and no refrain, "Amazing love! How can it be?"--which was not in the original). One more thing: When I sing this to the familiar tune (SAGINA), I completely miss the grammar and meaning of the questions, especially in verse one. Try reading this aloud, making the questions sound like questions.


AND CAN IT BE THAT I SHOULD GAIN?

And can it be that I should gain
An int'rest in the Saviourís blood?
Died He for me, who caused his pain?
For me, who him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be,
That thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

íTis mystery all--the' Immortal dies!
Who can explore his strange design?
In vain the first-born seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine;
íTis mercy all! let earth adore:
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left his Fatherís throne above;
(So free, so infinite his grace!)
Emptied himself of all but love,
And bled for Adamís helpless race:
íTis mercy all, immense and free,
For, O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprison'd spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and natureís night;
Thine eye diffused a quick'ning ray;
I woke; the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,--
I rose, went forth, and follow'd thee.

[This verse was omitted in later editions.]
Still the small inward voice I hear
That whispers all my sins forgiven;
Still the atoning blood is near,
That quenched the wrath of hostile Heaven.
I feel the life his wounds impart;
I feel the Saviour in my heart.

No condemnation now I dread,--
Jesus, with all in him, is mine;
Alive in him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach the' eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.


--Charles Wesley (1707-1788), from PSALMS AND HYMNS, 1738/9. See www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/a/c/acanitbe.htm (Cyber Hymnal version) and
www.christianitytoday.com/history/special/131christians/charleswesley.html (an interesting article on Charles Wesley).
Please take a close look at this information concerning the free Charles Wesley Symposium at Southern Seminary, March 10-11, 2008 (www.sbts.edu/wesley).




Have a great week!


Chip Stam
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky
www.wqotw.org
www.sbts.edu/icw

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