09 March 2010

Christian Songs that Inspire Me: In Christ Alone by Stuart Townsend and Keith Getty

I love this song. It's not perfect, but I love it anyway because it is simple melody, easy to learn, and, most important to me, it has lyrics that are carefully written and full of meaning. Here are the words, and I'll save my comments for the end.

In Christ alone my hope is found;
he is my light, my strength, my song.
This cornerstone, this solid ground
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.

What heights of love, what depths of peace
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease.
My comforter, my all in all,
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, who took on flesh,
fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righteousness
scorned by the ones he came to save

'Til on that cross as Jesus died
the wrath of God was satisfied,
for every sin on him was laid -
here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground his body lay:
Light of the world by darkness slain.
then bursting forth in glorious day,
up from the grave he rose again!

And as he stands in victory,
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me
for I am his and he is mine,
bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death -
this is the power of Christ in me.
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.

No power of Hell, no scheme of man
can ever pluck me from his hand.
Til he returns or calls me home,
here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

I'm thankful to the Gettys, who wrote this modern hymn (their description of it). From the first time I heard it, it became one of my all-time favorite songs. I would, however, like to clarify a few things about the lyrics, perhaps fine-tune them a bit:
  • "'Til on the cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied." Yes, this is true, but it was not God's wrath alone that put Jesus on the cross. It was his great love for us that put him there. I agree with Jack Cottrell: it should say ". . . God's wrath and love were satisfied."
  • Darkness did not slay Jesus, the Light of the world. It is poetic and it balances out the reference to light. Certainly the devil thought he had won a great victory, but even he knew that it was not his doing. God is the one who "made him who had no sin to be sin for us." Basically, God the Father slayed Jesus, pouring out his wrath on him and pouring out his love on us.
  • I'm not sure that "from life's first cry to final breath Jesus commands my destiny," unless this is a reference to eternal life and Heaven being our destiny (and even then there are some problems with the phrase). This sounds Calvinistic, as if there were no free will. Perhaps we Arminians and our Calvinist friends could agree on this: God foreknew that we would be saved by grace through faith, and therefore it can be said that from birth to death, our "destiny" is settled by God's foreknowledge.
In spite of a few tweaks, I still think this is one of the greatest songs of the last 25 years. I'll post a video of it above this post.

1 comment:

Laura said...

One of my favorite songs too! It's one I can't help but raise my hands to. I love the line "no power of hell no scheme of man can ever pluck me from his hand. till he returns or calls me home, here in the power of Christ I stand."