Oh, no, another “modernized” hymn!
Maybe you’ve noticed this trend in Praise and Worship music over the last several years.
About a decade ago, Matt Redman writes about how the hymnal is a treasure trove of song ideas and powerful lyrics. Then everyone’s changing old favorites to accommodate guitar rhythms and incorporate new choruses. (Truth be told, I’m sure others had the same idea, not just Matt, and I’m sure it was happening from time to time before he wrote it.)
The first one I really remember is Todd Agnew’s remake of Amazing Grace, titled “Grace Like Rain.” He puts the hymn in a minor key, and adds a chorus in between each verse talking about how our sinful stains are washed away in the rain of God’s grace. It works.
My wife and I love to play a duet on that. She has a great violin accompaniment and I have a special riff I like on the piano for the third verse.
Then I recall “The Wonderful Cross” with Matt Redman and Chris Tomlin from Passion: One Day 2003 (maybe). “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” is combined with a driving beat and a powerful chorus that borrows from Bonhoeffer:
“When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.”
There are others. “Jesus Paid It All” is on a recent Passion album, with a powerful buildup and a passionate cry for us to “Praise the One who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead.”
Chris Tomlin put out a version of Amazing Grace called “My Chains are Gone” with a chorus that sounds like the heartcry of a man released from his cell after years of imprisonment. “My God, my Savior has ransomed me… and like a flood, His mercy rains unending love, amazing grace.”
David Crowder Band has a version of “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” that starts with a soft minor key chorus about singing to the passionate God who rejoices over us… before the drums kick in and guitars scream in between the verses of the familiar hymn.
Sometimes the bandwagon gets it right.
Who am I to argue?
The hymn, “My Savior’s Love” was a theme song for one of the conferences my wife and I attended several years ago on Okinawa. It seemed like we were constantly being told “Go into My Savior’s Love and let’s just stay there for a while.” (We had pretty flexible worship musicians, so we could be told, “Do this song for a bit” and it all worked out.)
Years later, I was looking at a hymnal and found the song. I remembered how much I loved the emphasis on the marvel of God’s love…
Here in the present as “I stand amazed” and “wonder how He could love me.”
In the past as I think of how “He bore the burden to Calvary and suffered and died alone.”
In the future as “through the ages” I will “sing of His love for me.”
I also like the minor key – which to me speaks of reflection and wonder – that leads to the major key – which calls celebration and joy to mind.
Here’s a link to the song: My Savior’s Love… (I fear my singing is a bit pitchy in parts.)
And here’s the lyrics –
1 I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me, a sinner, condemned, unclean.
How marvelous! how wonderful! and my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! how wonderful! Is my Savior’s love for me!
2 He took my sins and my sorrows,
He made them His very own;
He bore the burden to Calvary,
And suffered and died alone.
3 When with the ransomed in glory
His face I at last shall see,
’Twill be my joy through the ages
To sing of His love for me.
Sing a song of praise to God above So amazing to think of
How wonderful, how marvelous is our Savior’s love
How marvelous! how wonderful! And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! how wonderful! is my Savior’s love for me!