Christian Worship Supplement, the new WELS hymnal supplement, includes this contemporary song by Keith Getty and Stuart Townsend. "In Christ Alone" was also one of the 100 contemporary songs, the 100 that were given the "green light" and "stamp of approval" by the LC-MS Commission on Worship and commended for use in LC-MS parishes. However, is it a "starke Kirchenlied"? Is it a strong church-song?
This text has much to commend itself and a depth that is so often absent in much of the genre of contemporary praise and worship. The first stanza begins with the powerful statement, "In Christ alone my hope is found." Period. I like that! This initial stanza speaks of Christ as the solid Rock upon which all believers stand. The second stanza has some nice incarnational imagery and language as well as incorporating the language of propitiation: Christ's death turning aside God's wrath over humanity's sin. That's a thought that is hard to find these days! Getty and Townsend ought to be commended for choosing such words as these. The third stanza, the resurrection stanza, presents the reality of the resurrection and what that event means for individuals. So far so good. It is the final stanza that raises a red flag or two with me. The fourth line doesn't seem correct somehow. What does the writer mean, "Jesus commands my destiny"? Does that mean Jesus has commanded the destiny of some to salvation and others to damnation...or am I reading too much theology into that? The combination of Romans 8 and John 10 language in the final stanza is appreciated. However, as a Lutheran, I am wishing there was an additional stanza that would use "means of grace" language to answer this question: How does the Christian stand in the power of Christ?
1. In Christ alone my hope is found.
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.
2. In Christ alone--who took on flesh,
Fulness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till 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.
3. There in the ground His body lay,
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.
4. 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;
Till He returns or calls me home;
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.