“Hymns of Glory” will be a recurring series. Its purpose is to reflect on beautiful, sound, and spiritual hymns, both old and modern, that have made a tremendous impact in the lives of those who write for The Reformed Alliance, and have glorified God through it’s all-around composition. May you be blessed by the series, and consider these hymns for personal, family, and corporate worship.
I know, I know: it’s been a while. Hymns of Glory is still going though, and what better way to come back to the series than by focusing on possibly the greatest hymn written in the 21st century so far: In Christ Alone.
What could possibly be said about this hymn that other people haven’t said? When this song was released in 2001, people were astounded. The Christian music industry didn’t seem to have any hymns being written by well-known Christian artists. In fact, hymns were considered to be dead since the 1970s by the large portion of the evangelical movement.
There was a great divide among Christians: you either liked old gospel songs like Leaning on the Everlasting Arms (gag) or you liked the modern worship songs like As the Deer (even bigger gag). Both lacked key features of an awesome worship song and melody:
1) Creativity. People didn’t seem to want to see any new chord variations or any new kind of melody. Every gospel and contemporary song became bland, and that isn’t something that glorifies God.
2) Theology. Gospel songs are the absolute worst even by Jesus Culture standards. They were sappy and lacked any true Scriptural or doctrinal motivation. It didn’t have any deep truth. The same can be said about the contemporary songs that lasted through the 1980s to the early 2000s (remember Jars of Clay anyone).
3) Worship. It’s crazy isn’t it? Worship songs should direct our attention to God and His greatness, and should cause us to bow in reverence… but instead, the songs at the time were very self-focused and dreary. They lacked any motivation as well. I know I’m being harsh on the gospel songs, but they actually are depressing and didn’t make people confident about living life for the gospel.
Now, here comes In Christ Alone. Penned by two great modern writers from Ireland, Stuart Townsend and Keith Getty were Presbyterians who loved the Scriptures and sound doctrine. They wanted to write something that reflected the truth found in Colossians 1 while also focusing on the Protestant view of Solus Christus. Together, the men decided to write a song that was truly unique.
Its melody was an instant classic, a throwback to the hymns of the 16th century while having a modern feel to it as well. Keith Getty would even add a beautiful flute and violin solo for the intro and I believe it is inseparable. It was a melody that the church was hungry for: unique and glorious. I can only imagine the joy God had when these two men were fulfilling His will for this song’s writing process.
Not only that, as stated before, these men wanted to incorporate true theology and wanted the song to completely focus on Christ. For once, the singer is not focused on how high one’s hands are lifted or how much one gets from God. None of that! Instead, the singer is dared to place his or her confidence in the works of Christ as the song perfectly states, “Here in the love… the death… in the power of Christ I stand.” Can you imagine what kind of a breath of fresh air this must’ve been for Christians at the time of its release?
Here is where I think it stands out: it is a contemporary hymn. It was not classified as a worship or gospel song. It was a hymn! No one would’ve ever thought that a song released in 2001 could have so much theology and Scriptural truth, let alone that a hymn could be released in 2001 and be popular. To this day, people consider In Christ Alone to be the hallmark of contemporary worship. Its legacy is so astounding that Passion City church made a cover. Heck, even the place where Joel Osteen preaches, Lakewood Church, plays this hymn.
I am incredibly pleased with how much God has blessed this song. I am truly grateful for this beautiful hymn. I have boasted about how this song will be the song playing at my funeral, and I am not kidding. If I had to choose one all-time favorite hymn, it has to go to the first hymn I’ve ever heard and the hymn with these marvelous words: “No guilt in life, no fear in death: this is the pow’r of Christ in me. From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny. No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man, can ever pluck me from His hand; ’til He returns or calls me home, here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.”
If that’s not a Hymn of Glory, I don’t know what is.
May God bless every one of you. The full lyrics to the song will be below, and if you want to listen to the beautiful song sung performed by Keith & Krysten Getty, click here. I hope you will be as blessed by this incredible hymn as much as I have during my days as a prodigal son to a conqueror in Christ.
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.
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 ev’ry sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live.
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.
This is the pow’r of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand
‘Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.
Soli Deo Gloria.