Controversy underscores importance of theology in hymns

hymnalBy Ken Camp

Worship leaders seldom welcome controversy. But some church musicians delight in the dust-up one line in a hymn created earlier this year.

The committee on congregational song for the Presbyterian Church, USA, wanted to include a version of the contemporary hymn “In Christ Alone” that altered a line in the second stanza from “the wrath of God was satisfied” to read “the love of God was magnified.” When the copyright holders, Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, declined, the committee voted not to include the song with its original lyrics.

“I rejoice in the controversy,” said Terry York, professor of Christian ministry and church music at Baylor University’s Truett Theological Seminary.

York, who has published more than 40 hymns and served as project coordinator for the 1991 edition of The Baptist Hymnal, sees the controversy as evidence of increased interest in the theology taught in worship songs. And he welcomes that kind of serious consideration.