Traditional Hymns Restored

Although we are a translation project to restore the full imagery of the original languages of the Bible to the English text, restoring the original lyrics and melodies of the long standing traditional hymns of the Church appears to be an increasingly relevant task. When one does a Google search on one of the great hymns of the Church, there appear many versions where someone changed a word or two or an entire verse of that hymn. They may have thought that changing a small word to a related word might not make a difference, but it takes the eye of the pastor toward the protection of the flock and a trained theologian to spot the important differences.

The reason the old hymns endure is that the theology is so powerfully true to the Scriptures. AND the music is pleasant. But with only one of these two qualities they would not still be in the church today. So when some guy in his apartment wants to change a word or two because he doesn’t like the way that word sounds, he is being used to rob the church of yet another hymn of power. Because it will not endure when the theology is weakened. That is why it is important not to change a single word in the very old songs of the church. Here is the amazing thing though… I was not raised in the Church, but even I know when I hear an old hymn and the words have been changed. I may have only heard them once or twice growing up, but I know because they have power and stay in the heart. Our restoration, though, will not be based on personal memory. Instead, it will be based on solid historical research methods.

Here is an example from a search we did on To God Be the Glory. One version had:

O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood!
To ev’ry believer the promise of God;
The vilest offender who truly believes,
That moment from Jesus forgiveness receives.

The key word that is different is in bold italics. The original reads:

O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood!
To ev’ry believer the promise of God;
The vilest offender who truly believes,
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

You may say, “Well, what difference is there between forgiveness and a pardon? After all, Jesus blood does bring forgiveness.” Yes, it does, but the point of the verse is to communicate that we have been released from a debt we owed because of our offense and that even the greatest debt due by the greatest offender receives a pardon, a pass on it, because of the VALUE of Jesus’ blood in the legal transaction. The word forgiveness does not convey this precision to empower the context of the verse. The term forgiveness actually weakens the message when inserted in place of a pardon. The pastor will discern this vital switch and will stand against it for the sake of protecting the flock.

Why is it a matter of protecting the flock? A watered down message is similar to carrying the name of the LORD without meaning (the 3rd of the Ten Commandments): Thou shalt not carry the name of the LORD in vain! And how can it be effective and powerful worship if by its form and execution we are breaking one of the Ten Commandments? This is one of the Commandments reinforced with ferocity by Jesus in Mathew 7:21-23

21Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Speaking words of worship that are robbed of their power invokes very little action once you quit singing. That is the truth that the pastor knows and keeps his eye on as he evaluates the state of the church. With this in mind, here are the traditional hymns we have gathered so far and restored to their original lyrics and melodies. Worship God in power and spirit and truth!