Singing theology: changing lyrics and the meanings of songs

An opinion piece by Jon the freelance theologian

A few Sundays ago I tweeted a comment about how changing song (or hymn, if you prefer) lyrics annoys me, particularly if the change makes no sense.

The song in question was ‘In Christ Alone’, by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, which usually features the line ‘And on that cross, as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied’.  This refers to a particular doctrine of the atonement called ‘penal substitution’, which can be summarised as Jesus dying as a substitute for others to pay the penalty for sin that God demands. (The doctrine is a bit more complicated than that, to be fair, but we could be here all day if we go too deep into it.) (more…)