1 And can it be that I should gain
An int'rest in the Savior's 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, should die for me?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, should die for me!
2 'Tis mystery all! Th'Immortal dies!
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine!
'Tis mercy all! let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more. [Refrain]
3 He left His Father's throne above,
So free, so infinite His grace;
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam's helpless race;
'Tis mercy all, immense and free;
For, O my God, it found out me. [Refrain]
4 Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature's 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 followed Thee. [Refrain]
5 No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him is mine!
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th'eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own. [Refrain]
Sing Joyfully, 1989
|First Line:||And can it be that I should gain|
|Title:||And Can It Be, That I Should Gain?|
|Author:||Charles Wesley (1738)|
|Place of Origin:||Great Britain|
|Refrain First Line:||Amazing love! How can it be|
|Copyright:||This text in in the public domain in the United States because it was published before 1923.|
|Liturgical Use:||Songs of Response|
“And Can It Be” was written by Charles Wesley in 1738, in response to his conversion to belief in Christ. It was published in John Wesley's Psalms and Hymns in that same year with six stanzas. In a later republication by the Wesleys in 1780, the original fifth stanza was omitted (beginning “Still the small inward voice I hear”), and this revision has been honored ever since.
This hymn usually appears with all five stanzas, though sometimes the second (beginning “'Tis mystery all!”) is omitted. The refrain is a repetition of the last two lines of the first stanza. Sometimes there is an expanded refrain, in which these two lines are sung twice after every stanza, replacing the last two lines of the second through fifth stanzas, but this omits some important lines of the hymn.
In the nineteenth century, FILLMORE was the most common tune this hymn was sung to. However, in the twentieth century this text was paired with SAGINA, and with few exceptions, this is the only tune used today. SAGINA is by Thomas Campbell, about who little is known other than that he published The Bouquet in 1825, a collection of twenty-three tunes with botanical names. “Sagina” is the name of a genus of flowering plants.
The tune is fairly well-known, but it can present difficulties for congregational singing because of its wide range and frequent melismas. It is a good idea to sing in parts, especially on the refrain.
This hymn is used as a song of response, and is especially suited to a service of confession and forgiveness, or an adult baptism. If more than one hymn is desired, try pairing it with another joyful song of response, such as “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less,” or, for contrast, a peaceful one, such as “Amazing Grace.”
One unusual way to use this hymn would be to have the choir sing Lloyd Larson's setting of Wesley's text to the music of classical composer Gabriel Fauré's “Pavane,” titled “How Can It Be?”. The soft, haunting mood of this arrangement is best suited for Lent or Holy Week, and allows the listener to contemplate the sober reality of Christ's sacrifice. The collection “Amazing Love” by Mary MacDonald includes an arrangement for organ and piano duet that is more suited to the jubilant mood this hymn is normally sung with. Another instrumental setting of “And Can It Be” is the trumpet and trombone duet with piano accompaniment by Dana F. Everson. “The Festival Hymn Collection, volume 2” contains a setting of this hymn, with organ introduction, two settings of the verse, and an optional descant.
Tiffany Shomsky, Hymnary.org