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Experts Offer Insight on John Piper’s Additions to the Hymn 'Great is Thy Faithfulness'

  • Amanda Casanova

    Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and…

  • 2018 Aug 14

Methodist experts say John Piper’s additions to the hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” are theologically sound based on the “criteria of adherence to Wesleyan theology, appropriate use of language for God and humanity and singability.”

Piper added two verses to the song for the worship team to sing at The Gospel Coalition’s women’s conference.

I could not love Thee, so blind and unfeeling;
Covenant promises fell not to me.
Then without warning, desire, or deserving,
I found my Treasure, my pleasure, in Thee.

I have no merit to woo or delight Thee,
I have no wisdom or pow’rs to employ;
Yet in thy mercy, how pleasing thou find’st me,
This is Thy pleasure: that Thou art my joy.

The author of the original hymn, Thomas Chisholm, was Methodist. Experts, who are part of the United Methodist Church, reviewed the additions to the hymn. The team also reviews the CCLI Top 100 songs.

Meanwhile, church leaders and other experts are questioning if additions should be made to hymns.

In a 1780 hymnal preface, John Wesley himself wrote that people are “perfectly welcome” to reprint hymns “just as they are.”

But I desire they would not attempt to mend them; for they really are not able. None of them is able to mend either the sense or the verse,” he said. “Therefore, I must beg of them one of these two favors: either to let them stand just as they are, to take them for better for worse.”

Constance M. Cherry, professor of Christian worship and pastoral ministry at Indiana Wesleyan University, said that a hymn is a “piece of art.”

“As such, adding or subtracting from any work of art is questionable, especially if the original artist is not able to agree to the changes,” she said.

Russell Yee, affiliate associate professor of Christian worship at Fuller Theological Seminary, says he encourages writing new theologically sound lyrics to public-domain hymns.

“While properly crediting and honoring original musicians and lyricists, their works are a gift to the church,” he said. “Like all gifts, they should be used with gratitude, thoughtfulness, and propriety.”