Tag Archives: Keith Getty

I Can’t Get No Satisfaction… In Christ Alone?

When you are in church singing a hymn or contemporary worship song, how often do you think about what the words mean? Music is a powerful vehicle for expressing praise to God, no matter what the style or genre is. But it is the lyrics in the song that have the greatest importance.

Perhaps one of most illuminating controversies in 2013 was over one particular contemporary hymn, In Christ Alone, written by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty. Several years ago, a Baptist group put out a hymnal, Celebrating Grace, including the song by Townend and Getty. The Baptist hymnal read verse 2 like this:

In Christ alone who took on flesh
Fulness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteous-ness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
Till on the cross as Jesus died
The love of God was magnified
For every sin Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

In early 2013, the hymnal revision committee of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A (PCUSA), the largest mainline Presbyterian denomination in America, liked this version and asked the original songwriters if they could put the song in their new hymnal. Unfortunately, there was a “small” problem.  It appears that the Baptist group had altered verse two (note the line in bold above), and they had failed to tell Townend and Getty about the modification. The original version was actually this:

Till on the cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied

The songwriters would grant permission to the Presbyterians to use the song so long as they would keep the original wording. The Presbyterian hymnal committee refused the songwriters’ conditions and therefore dropped the song from the new hymnal.

You will not be singing In Christ Alone from any PCUSA hymnal anytime soon.

Can you hear Mick Jagger crooning about that? (Hampton Coliseum, 1981)

But for you Presbyterian “rebels” out there who “can’t get no satisfaction”, you can clandestinely sing along with it here (I promise not to tell your pastor)  😉

(SIDE NOTE: Kristyn Getty, married to Keith Getty, the songwriter, is a niece to Irish/British apologist John Lennox who teaches at Oxford).

So what’s the big deal? Brewing in our churches today is a theological controversy regarding the nature of the atonement: When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, what was that all about? What did Jesus accomplish?
Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: