1. How vainly do the heathen strive
To falsify our Master’s word,
Who teach us that we may godly live
Yet never suffer for our Lord;
In ancient times the fact allow,
But say, the world is Christian now.
2. Christian the world of drunkards is,
The world of whoremongers and thieves,
The slaves of foul and fair excess;
Whoe’er the Christian rite receives,
Led from the font at Satan’s will,
Haters of Christ, and Christians still.
3. The devilish, and the sensual crowd,
Who as brute beasts their lusts obey,
Lovers of pleasure more than God,
Who dance, and curse, and fight and play,
Monsters of vice, our nature’s shame,
All hell assumes the Christian name.
4. Yet still when Antichrist prevails,
And Satan sits in Moses’ chair,
The Gospel truths are idle tales,
No cross, no Holy Ghost is there,
The heathen world will Christian seem,
And bid us take the rule from them.
5. The temple of the Lord are we,
(The synagogue of Satan cry)
We need not persecuted be
Or cruelly ourselves deny:
Come see, ye fools, who sigh and grieve,
How much at ease we Christians live.
6. We are the men—of wealth and state,
Of pomp, and fashionable ease,
Honor, and power, and pleasure wait
The silken sons of downy peace;
And lo! we glide secure and even
Down a broad flowery way—to Heaven.
7. While house to house, and field to field,
And living we to living join
The gazing crowd obeisance yield
And praise the slick and smooth Divine
Who saves them all the madman’s care,
The drudgery of faith, and prayer.
8. No fanciful enthusiasts we
To look for inspiration here,
To dream from sin to be set free
Or hope to feel the Spirit near,
Or know our sins on earth forgiven,
Or madly give up all for Heaven!
Charles Wesley, M.A. was the great hymn-writer of the Wesley family, perhaps, taking quantity and quality into consideration, the great hymn-writer of all ages. Charles Wesley was the youngest son and 18th child of Samuel and Susanna Wesley, and was born at Epworth Rectory, Dec. 18, 1707. In 1716 he went to Westminster School, being provided with a home and board by his elder brother Samuel, then usher at the school, until 1721, when he was elected King's Scholar, and as such received his board and education free. In 1726 Charles Wesley was elected to a Westminster studentship at Christ Church, Oxford, where he took his degree in 1729, and became a college tutor. In the early part of the same year his religious impressions were much deepene… Go to person page >
The Unpublished Poetry of Charles Wesley, by S. T. Kimbrough, Jr., & Oliver A. Beckerlegge (Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press, 1992), pages 198-9
Wesley's main theme here seems to be those who are Christians in name only; though the harsh tone might make the hymn unsuitable for general congregational singing, it may still be of use in other settings, such as small groups, adult Bible study, private devotions, etc.
Alternate tunes: ADORO TE, Joseph Barnby, 1872; EISENACH, Johann H. Schein, 1628; ST. CATHERINE (WALTON), James G. Walton, 1864
SAGINA, by Thomas Campbell (b. Sheffield, England, 1777; d. England [?], 1844), is almost universally associated with "And Can It Be." Little is known of Campbell other than his publication The Bouquet (1825), in which each of twenty-three tunes has a horticultural name. SAGINA borrows its name from…
Display Title: Modern ChristianityFirst Line: How vainly do the heathen striveTune Title: SAGINA (Short)Author: Charles Wesley, 1707-1788Meter: LMDSource: The Unpublished Poetry of Charles Wesley, by S. T. Kimbrough, Jr., & Oliver A. Beckerlegge (Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press, 1992), pages 198-9