Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Hymned Out

The exclusion of the popular hymn "In Christ Alone" from publication in the new hymnal being assembled by the Presbyterian Church (USA) is explained  here by some of the Presbyterian entities involved and elaborated on  here by the co-chair of the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song, Mary Louise Bringle. It appears the committee had originally decided to include the Gospel hymn, written by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, but then excluded it because the authors would not agree to a change in the wording on one of the lines.

The committee wanted the words, "Til on that cross when Jesus died/The wrath of God was satisfied" changed to "Til on that cross as Jesus died/The love of God was magnified." In her discussion of the rationale for excluding the hymn, Bringle makes it clear that committee members did not accept the original words in this line of the song because they disagreed with the "view" of those words. As she describes the deliberation about whether or not to include the hymn unedited, the argument was between those who disagreed with the original words of the line they wanted to revise, but who still thought the hymn should be included--even if unrevised--and those who disagreed with the original words and were willing to make the issue of changing them a deal-breaker. Apparently the deal-breaker faction won by a 9-6 vote.

The irony is the cross demonstrates God's love precisely because it is through the cross that Christ satisfies God's wrath. In insisting on the revised words the committee unwittingly advocated for a truth based on the very words they wanted to replace.

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