THE popular Evangelical hymn "In Christ alone", which was sung
at the Archbishop of Canterbury's enthronement service (
News, 28 March), has not been included in a new collection of
hymns because it contains a line about the satisfaction of God's
The hymn was considered by the Presbyterian Committee on
Congregational Song (PCOCS) for inclusion in a hymnal that is due
to be published this year by the Presbyterian Church of the United
States (PCUSA), Glory to God.
Writing in The Christian Century, in May, Mary
Louise Bringle, the Chair of the PCOCS, said that the committee had
initially voted for "In Christ alone" by Keith Getty and Stuart
Townend, to be included in the hymn book. It intended for the hymn
to be published with the line, "Till on that cross as Jesus died
The love of God was magnified."
She wrote: "In the process of clearing copyrights for the hymnal
we discovered that this version of the text would not be approved
by the authors, as it was considered too great a departure from
their original words: "as Jesus died The wrath of God was
satisfied." We were faced, then, with a choice: to include the hymn
with the authors' original language or to remove it from our
The PCOCS voted by nine to six against including "In Christ
alone" in the hymnal with the original lyrics, "with deep regret
over losing its otherwise poignant and powerful witness". The
prevalent view of the committee was that it did not wish "to
perpetuate . . . the view that the cross is primarily about God's
need to assuage God's anger".
Writing in the Church Times in 2010, the then Precentor
of Salisbury Cathedral, Canon Jeremy Davies said that he found it
"very difficult to sing" the line about God's wrath being satisfied
Features, 24 September 2010). "Are we really to believe that
the angry God, propitiated by a blameless victim, is the God and
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ?"
Writing on the Fulcrum website in 2007, Dr Tom Wright, a former
Bishop of Durham, recommended that the line be changed to: "Till on
that cross as Jesus died The love of God was satisfied."
There was a danger, he argued, of people presenting "over-simple
stories with an angry God and a loving Jesus, with a God who
demands blood and doesn't much mind whose it is as long as it's
innocent. You'd have thought people would notice that this flies in
the face of John's and Paul's deep-rooted theology of the love of
the triune God: not 'God was so angry with the world that he gave
us his son' but 'God so loved the world that he gave us his
The Revd Steve Chalke, a prominent Baptist minister, was
criticised by some Evangelicals, in 2004, for describing the penal
substitutionary model of the atonement as "a form of cosmic child
abuse - a vengeful Father, punishing his Son" (
News, 15 October 2004).