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“And Can It Be”: A Historical and Theological Analysis

October 20, 2010

Originally titled “Free Grace,” this hymn is one of several hymns by Charles Wesley that is still widely sung in the present day. Although we do not know exactly when “And Can It Be” was written, it is usually associated with a very early period linked with the Charles Wesley’s conversion. Regardless of when it was written, the song clearly describes the experience of conversion and the wonder of one who is still amazed “That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?”. Tyson points out the repeated use of “for me” in this hymn as evidence of the impact of the reading of Martin Luther’s Galatians commentary.


The article is by Steve Weaver, pastor of Farmdale Baptist Church, Frankfort, KY. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Church History at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY.  His area of research is 17th century British Particular Baptist pastor, Hercules Collins.

Click here to read his entire article.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 15, 2012 10:18 am

    Thank you for the kind comments! I too was surprised at how many biblical allusions there are in the hymn after digging into it.

  2. brehill permalink
    May 15, 2012 8:11 am

    Thank you for your well written account. I have heard that “And Can It Be” was first published in John Wesley’s Psalms and Hymns (1738). This would agree with your comment that it was written in “a very early period linked with the Charles Wesley’s conversion.”

    I am amazed at the reference to so many scriptural texts such as Philippians 2:7, Acts 12:6-8, Romans 8:1, and Hebrews 4:16. This hymn is rich i so many ways.

  3. Rhonda Shubert permalink
    October 21, 2010 2:24 am

    Well written Steve. I still ask myself , how can it be?.

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