Sunday, April 5, 2009

Lyric Change??

In his book, The God I Don't Understand , Christopher Wright suggests a change to the lyrics of Stuart Townend’s hymn “In Christ Alone”. Wright suggests that it be modified to capture the greater biblical fullness of meaning (132-133).  The original lyric is:

“…till on that cross as Jesus died the wrath of God was satisfied.
Wright suggests that it be changed to:
...till on that cross as Jesus died God's wrath and love were satisfied"
I disagree with Wright’s suggestion.  I understand that his hope is to recover the idea that God’s wrath and God’s love are “intrinsically connected to one another” (130).  However, I think this change to the lyric would be a tad confusing.  Satisfaction is a propitiation term.  In Townend’s lyric is has to do with the permanency of the wrath of God being removed from us by the cross of Christ; it speaks of finality.  To say that love is “satisfied” in the same context that you are speaking of wrath being “satisfied” would either lower what is meant by wrath being fully taken away or lower the eternal nature of love.  Love is eternal and to speak of it as being “satisfied” in the same way that we speak of wrath being “satisfied” is confusing at best. 
What do you think? 


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Mike,

    I agree with you. He should leave the lyric the way it was. On the cross, God's wrath was satisfied, it was quenched. There is in no sense that the same could said of His love. I do think that on the cross, God showed both his love and wrath. However, while one was satisfied, the other was exemplified (maybe there should be a better word there, but I couldn't come up with it).


  3. leave it alone. without a doubt this song was birthed out of an intimate, alone in your closet, encounter with the Creator, and very possibly with the notion of it never being presented to the church for corporate worship, but simply for townsend (and getty I believe?). The lyrics are immersed in doctrine and theology, but its the heart with which it was composed that's so beautiful here. Music is emotion and while its dangerous to lead corporately by playing the emotion card, its also part of our nature, we are emotional creatures. This song is a prime example of that, I believe you must have a heart of stone and unrepentance to not be emotionally broken by this song. Leave the song alone and be blessed the message contained therein.

  4. Brian,

    I totally agree...there is no point in changing anything with In Christ Alone. What a great song that caries phenomenal theology. To try to change the lyrics is picking at gnats.

    To be fair to Wright, however, I want to mention that he is not seriously proposing that we change the lyric. He is only saying so to make a point. I agree with the point he is making in the context of the book...but disagree with him using In Christ Alone as an I stated earlier it just doesn't make sense to change it how he suggested.

    On another note have you heard the Bethany Dillon version of this song? Maybe we actually listened to it about being broken...

  5. hey mikey- not sure if we've had that discussion or not? you know me and my rememory! I have to be honest, my favorite is Kristyn Getty, followed by Bethany Dillon and Matt Hammitt (not a huge Sanctus Real fan, but I love his heart and his passion!), and third would be Avalon.

    As mentioned before this is one of those extremely emotional songs and one that I have steered away from in corporate worship.

    I think its pretty dangerous to call me a worship leader, not really sure what I would consider myself, but I find, for me personally, there are quiet a few wonderful songs that I would love to incorporate into what I do, but I find that my...... offering of them does not do justice to what I feel the song is -as an expression of worship from the writer to the Creator. Yearn is another one for me, even though I'm working through my inadequacies.

    I struggle so much, to a point I often wonder if I should even be doing what I'm doing. How can I, being so vile and disgusting and self righteous, continually trample His courts with my defiled offerings, and even worse stand before the church on a sunday morning and put on a horrific display of my filth.



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