THE STORY BEHIND THE HYMN: AMAZING LOVE (AND CAN IT BE)
Ephesians 3:19-20 (KJV), “And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. 20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,”
The hymn that we know as Amazing Love or And Can It Be was written by the prolific hymn composer Charles Wesley. I read varying accounts to the number of songs attributed to him, but it appears to be well over 5000.
Charles and his brother John were both ordained ministers and founded a holy group called "The Methodists" because of their methods of rising early and strict Bible study. Yet they were both caught in the trap of legalism. A mission trip to the American colony of Georgia proved to be disastrous and Charles came home broken and ill. After his return, both he and his brother made the acquaintance of Moravian Peter Bohler, who urged Charles to look more deeply at the state of his soul and who taught them about true evangelical Christianity.
In May of 1738, once again ill, Charles read Martin Luther's book on Galatians and was convicted. 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 exceedingly abundantly for me above what I can ask or think."
He also journaled, "I now found myself at peace with God, and rejoiced in hope of loving Christ. I saw that by faith I stood." Two days later he began writing a hymn that many believe to be And Can It Be (Amazing Love). The hymn's words bear this theory out, especially the words of verse four.
Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature's night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free;
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?