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 And Can it Be that I Should Gain?

Charles Wesley, 1707-1788


Can any believer contemplate the “amazing love” of Calvary without sharing the awe and wonder of Charles Wesley’s questions in today’s hymn?  Written a short time after his ‘heart-warming’ Aldersgate experience on May 20, 1738, this song of grateful adoration for God’s great plan of redemption has been one of our most deeply moving and treasured hymns for more than 200 years.


Even though Welsey had strict religious training in his youth, an education at Oxford University and missionary service in the new colony of Georgia, (yes…present day USA) – he had absolutely no peace nor joy in his heart and life.  Returning to London after a discouraging time in America, a series of providential circumstances placed him with a group of Moravians in the Aldersgate Hall and through them he came to realize that “salvation is by faith alone.”  In his journal of May 20th he wrote: “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 exceeding abundantly for me above what I can ask or think.”


In the spirit of joyous enthusiasm, Charles began to write new hymns with increased fervor.  He travelled throughout Great Britain with his older brother John a quarter of a million miles, mostly on horseback, leading great crowds in singing his hymns in mass outdoor services of up to 40,000 people!


For a while it seemed as though, with every new spiritual experience or thought that crossed Charles’ mind, a new hymn was born.  Even on his deathbed it is said that he dictated to his wife a final hymn of praise to the lord he had loved so intimately and served so effectively.