Our church fairly regularly changes up the songs we’re singing during corporate worship.[1. I won’t use the term “set list” in connection with church because it’s gross.] There are lots of reasons for this—a song is past its prime/badly dated; some songs only fit with certain messages and themes; sometimes there’s something new to share with the congregation… you get the idea.
One positive that comes from this is you might be introduced to a new and powerful song that adds to your personal and corporate praise. But, there’s also a consequence you have to deal with: sometimes really great songs aren’t sung as often anymore (if at all).
There’s a song I really miss singing at church. It’s one that I can’t remember the last time we sang it.[2.At the time of this writing, I’m guessing months. Longer if you don’t count the times when we’ve sung it with some mysteriously added bridge that is mostly vocalizing and adds nothing to the song.] It’s one of the songs that I sing loudest with at every opportunity: Stuart Townend and Keith Getty’s “In Christ Alone.”
What is it about this song that I love so dearly? Well, just look at the first line:
In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song…
The song draws me in because it reminds me of my foundation: Christ. My hope is found in him, for he is my hope. He is my light and my strength. He is the solid ground—the solid Rock on which I stand, when all other ground is sinking sand, as the old hymn goes. And as the song goes on, it just gets better:
- He is my “Comforter, my All in All.”
- He is the one through whose death the “wrath of God was satisfied.”
- The one because of whom “Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me.”
- The one who “commands my destiny” and whose power resides in me.
Christ is the one who holds my life in his hands and will never let me go.
The beauty of this song, is that these aren’t mere declarations of facts. They are the reason I worship—the reason we worship. If none of these things be true, then we don’t have a reason for doing any of the stuff we do on a Sunday morning. We can be here to worship and say “you’re my God,” all we want, we can sing of God’s love forever, all and sorts of other things, but if we miss these truths, we miss the whole thing.
There are other songs that communicate these kinds of truths, make no mistake. And I thank God for them. But this one is special.
The first time I got this was actually one of my first weekends at my current church (where I’ve been since 2009). It was the first time I heard this song—this bold declaration of the good news of Jesus and the greatness of Christ in song. And I don’t think I ever sang louder in church. It was part of what let me know I was “home.”
And when I heard it in the context of corporate worship at a large Christian conference—performed by one of the song’s writers no less—it gripped me as much as that first time. To hear thousands of people, predominantly men, singing these truths together… we were gripped by it. We weren’t swept up into empty emotionalism. We weren’t carried off by the beat. The words we were singing were drilling deep into our hearts—the words were an echo of what our souls longed for and knew to be true!
That’s what I love about this song. It brings our hope to life in a way that few others do. And I can’t wait till the next time we get to sing it together.