Christ Has Defeated Every Sin: Another Hymn Edited

There has been a good deal of discussion in recent weeks related to the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s preference to amend a line in the hymn “In Christ Alone” to avoid the language of penal substitutionary atonement. Timothy George and Russell Moore responded with thoughtful pieces upholding the biblical truth of the satisfaction of Christ’s sacrifice and the wrath of God.

Bob Terry of The Alabama Baptist recently argued, on the other hand, that this recent reaction was a “theological dust up” and that he prefers “to focus on His love evidenced at Calvary rather than on His wrath.”

As I wrote recently, the substitution of Christ’s sacrifice to satisfy God’s wrath is not the stuff of preference but rather something vital to embrace. Following Martin Luther’s statement that Christ’s “righteousness … serves us like an umbrella against the heat of God’s wrath,” our hope is found in this very shield of sufficient sacrifice (Rom 3:21-28; Isa 53:10). And about this hope we should sing as if our lives depended on it, for they do.

This week Sovereign Grace Music released a new version of one of my favorite hymns, “All Creatures of our God and King.” Yet, unlike the PCUSA’s edit of “In Christ Alone,” I think this hymn amending is wonderful. For the issue really is not whether hymns can be improved or if they are inviolable once published, but rather do such amendments better reflect biblical truth?

In the case of the new “All Creatures,” the SGM version arrives with two new verses that, as Bob Kauflin explains, now allow the hymn to speak both to Christ’s atoning work and his soon return.

This hymn has a long history having part of its origins in the work of Francis of Assisi and his interesting Canticles of the Sun where he personifies “Brother Fire, “Sister Moon, and “Mother Earth” calling on them to praise the Lord in the spirit of Psalm 145:

All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your saints shall bless you! They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, (Psalm 145:10-11, ESV)

William Draper, an English Anglican, published a helpful (and much improved) paraphrase at the turn of the twentieth century that found its way into hymnals for the ensuing decades. Draper’s paraphrase has this wonderful affirmation of Trinitarian truth that brings joy each time I sing it:

Praise God the Father, praise the Son,
and praise the Spirit, Three in One:
O praise him, O praise him,
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

In the Sovereign Grace version, the addition of the gospel-centered third verse reminds that “Christ has defeated every sin”. The hope-filled fourth verse points to the bended knee praise of all creatures on the day of the glorious return of our God and King. Thus, as “All Creatures” has been several times now another hymn edited, thankfully only further improvement and biblical clarity have come.

O praise Him! Allelujah!

Here is the new version and lyrics:

All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing
O praise Him! Allelujah!
Thou, burning sun with golden beam
Thou, silver moon with softer gleam
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Allelujah! Allelujah! Allelujah!

Let all things their Creator bless
And worship Him in humbleness
O praise Him! Allelujah!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son
And praise the Spirit, Three-in-One
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Allelujah! Allelujah! Allelujah!

All the redeemed washed by His blood
Come and rejoice in His great love
O praise Him! Allelujah!
Christ has defeated every sin
Cast all your burdens now on Him
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Allelujah! Allelujah! Allelujah!

To Him who loves us
And is returning be honor
For we shall see Him in His glory

He shall return in pow’r to reign
Heaven and earth will join to say
O praise Him! Allelujah!
Then who shall fall on bended knee?
All creatures of our God and King
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Allelujah! Allelujah! Allelujah!

© 2013 Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP)
from All That Thrills My Soul, released 08 January 2013
Lyrics by St. Francis of Assisi (Verses 1, 2) and Jonathan Baird and Ryan Baird (Verses 3,4), Music by William Henry Draper, Adapted by Jonathan Baird and Ryan Baird

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on the blog site of Jason G. Duesing, vice president for strategic initiatives and assistant professor of historical theology at Southwestern Seminary.