This paper interrogates the iconic status of Charles Wesley's hymn "And can it be" within British Methodism. It examines words, music and context, arguing that it is the combination of these that is crucial to understanding the hymn's status, and that such an approach may be more widely useful in hymnology. Through examination of the literary characteristics of the text, the musical settings associated with it throughout its history, and the ways in which it has been used within British Methodism, it reflects upon the hymn's peculiar place in the spiritual life of the denomination, and how this reflects upon Methodism's attitude to its heritage of hymnody.

Author Biography

Martin V Clarke is a Lecturer in Music at The Open University (UK). His primary research interest lies in the relationships between music and theology, and especially their articulation in the music and religious practice of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain, and the Methodist movement more widely.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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