And Can It Be?
And Can It Be?
Gillingham, David R.
Based on the hymn, And Can It Be?, Gillingham takes the work to new heights to depict the escalating violence in this country. The substance of this work is derived from the hymn, starting with a partial statement of the hymn which becomes twisted and snarled like the growing violence in our world. But, for the saving grace of God, love will always reign, and the hymn tune eventually emerges in glorious triumph.
In 1981, I began my career as a college professor at Spring Arbor College, in Spring Arbor, Michigan. It was customary at this church-related college to begin the day, several times a week, with an all-campus chapel service. On one particular occasion, I came late to the service during the singing of the opening hymn, And Can It Be?, a hymn deeply rooted in Methodist tradition, authored by Charles Wesley to the music of Thomas Campbell. Despite my Methodist upbringing, I had never sung or heard this hymn before. With over 700 voice sounding the strains of this hymn, I was immediately taken by its beauty and grandeur. The hymn has remained a favorite of mine and that memorable day is firmly etched in my mind.
Last year, after the tragedy at Columbine, Colorado, this hymn tune immediately came to mind with its title now bearing a double meaning. Whereas Charles Wesley wrote, "And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Saviour's blood?", I asked, "How can it be that these young people should die so violently and needlessly?" One can only turn to God or a force greater than man for comfort amidst such terrible events. Hence, the inspiration for this work is taken from the affirmation of this hymn versus the escalating violence in our country, particularly in our public schools.
The substance of this work is derived from the hymn, starting with a partial statement of the hymn which becomes twisted and snarled like the growing violence in our world. But, for the saving grace of God, love will always reign, and the hymn tune eventually emerges in glorious triumph.
- David R. Gillingham
Grade Level: 5
Number of Players: Standard
Listen to Recordings
Flute 1/Piccolo with Solo Alto Flute
Bb Clarinet 1
Bb Clarinet 2
Bb Clarinet 3
Alto Saxophone 1/2
Bb Trumpet 1
Bb Trumpet 2
Bb Trumpet 3
Timpani (4 drums)
Percussion 1 (bell tree, crotales, 4 brake drums, crash cymbals)
Percussion 2 (vibraphone, 4.3-octave marimba [shared], hi-hat, chimes, suspended cymbal)
Percussion 3 (4.3-octave marimba [shared], xylophone, bells, snare drum)
Percussion 4 (suspended cymbal, tam-tam, 4 tom-toms, large bass drum)