Printing was expensive, and not every one could read, so most hymns were learned aurally and remembered.

One can only imagine how important verse four was for the Martyrs, especially during transportation.

It is easy to imagine the prisoners bursting into song from the cells, or perhaps on the transportation ships.

Methodists sing their faith - And can it be
  1. And can it be that I should gain
    an interest in the Saviour's blood?
    Died he for me, who caused his pain?
    For me, who him to death pursued?
    Amazing love! How can it be
    that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
  2. 'Tis mystery all: the Immortal dies!
    Who can explore his strange design?
    In vain the first-born seraph tries
    to sound the depths of love divine.
    'Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
    let angel minds enquire no more.
  3. He left his Father's throne above --
    so free, so infinite his grace --
    emptied himself of all but love,
    and bled for Adam's helpless race.
    'Tis mercy all, immense and free;
    for, O my God, it found out me!
  4. 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.
  5. No condemnation now I dread;
    Jesus, and all in him, is mine!
    Alive in him, my living Head,
    and clothed in righteousness divine,
    bold I approach the eternal throne,
    and claim the crown, through Christ, my own.

Charles Wesley (1707-1788)

Click here to see "O for a thousand tongues to sing" another great hymn by Charles Wesley

The tune normally used for this hymn, Sagina, is among the most stirring melodies used by the Church. It matches the mood of the words perfectly.

In the early days of the Methodist Church almost all hymns were sung unaccompanied, since many services were held in the open air, and very few churches could afford instruments anyway.

The tradition of singing unaccompanied when the mood takes people is still upheld in the Methodist Church. It is especially stirring when people attending meetings or the annual Methodist Conference decide on the spur of the moment that hymn is needed!