Christian Relaunch

Versions used in the Hymnal

My efforts to identify the original text have in most cases been earnest but not exhaustive, so "original" below means "as near original as I have found".

I have found Hymntime.com especially useful.

I vary from the originals for the following reasons.

Archaic. The original now conveys either a different sense, or no sense at all.

Heretical. The original conduces to heresy.

The Notes usually name the heresy, with the metaheresy of which it is a version. These can usually be found in the Heresies area of this site. (But in a few cases, where I omit a stanza that most other editors also omit, I have not deemed it necessary to identify the heresy.)

The author was usually not positively affirming heresy, merely taking it for granted, and I give deceased authors the benefit of the doubt that they would have accepted correction if the way of God had been explained to them accurately enough.

Where an author does positively affirm a heresy, it is usually so pervasive as to be incorrigible, so that omitting the entire stanza, or indeed the entire hymn, is the only recourse, thus avoiding difficult questions regarding accuracy or geniality.

That leaves cases where I deliberately express a doctrine contrary to the author's. I would hate anyone to be misled about the beliefs of anyone, living or expired, but I think that a happy formulation of words, whoever first stumbled on it, belongs to us all, and I feel entitled to adapt it for my own purposes. I have never tampered with an author's main point, or changed more than about 10% of the lines of any one hymn, so I think it truer to call my versions "adaptations" of the originals, rather than new hymns "based on" them.

I admit that some of my alterations hamper the decoration, but heresy must be challenged. Suggestions for better solutions are welcome.

Lost. The original included material I have not been able to find.

Mosaic. The original expresses sentiments proper under the Old Covenant but not under the New.

This occurs mainly in hymns based on Hebrew Psalms.

But to avoid breaking up the flow too much, some such expressions are retained.

Narrow. The original affirms a belief that can be both affirmed and denied without heresy, and is denied by some Christianoids.

The present author denies (or at least doubts) some of these beliefs, but that is irrelevant here, though I opine on some of them either here or elsewhere in the site.

My intention is to enable every real Christian to sing (and mean) every word.

Poor. The original is defective in some way (usually clarity or beauty) and can be improved or omitted without disturbing the message.

Some of the improvements are my own.

Of the others, some are better known than the originals, and readers may be surprised to find that they were not in those originals.

Not all the defects glare. Some omitted stanzas merely made the whole too long for use as a hymn and were not quite as good as the retained ones.

Specific. The original expresses an experience, usually autobiographical, not shared by every Christian.

It is of course proper to recite such literature, and the audience understands that the speaker relates another's experience rather than their own, but in singing hymns such indirection places a layer of interpretation between reverer and revered, so I prefer only to sing what every Christian shares or can properly aspire to.

For instance, "man" is replaced by "soul" in some cases where sex is irrelevant.

Unmetrical. The original has too many syllables for the tune.

Veterans take all these cases in their stride, and some may see no problem, but I seek to smooth the way for struggling novices, and for those like me who prefer strict metre.

To that end I have made two kinds of abbreviation.

1. Sometimes I substitute a different word, or even rewrite an entire line.

2. Sometimes I just indicate by apostrophe to drop a syllable, as in "Heav'n" and "belov'd". (In a few cases the apostrophe is not even needed. I know not what poetic modernism led so many authors to treat "Abraham" and "Bethlehem" as bisyllabic, but happily "Bethlem" is familiar enough, and it was "Abram" who "went, as Yahweh had told him".)

The first type are noted individually below, the second not.

In other cases I keep the original because it is easy enough to drop a syllable though I see no convenient way to indicate this in the text. (For instance, in refined spoken English, "familiar" has four syllables, but in Abide with me it is squeezed into three. This is easily done by pronouncing "i" consonantally, as if it were a "y". Incidentally, the 1964 Concise OED gave this latter as the pronunciation but by 1990 had reverted to four syllables, if I rightly read their phoenetic symbols; make of that what you will.)

(No change). Most editions have something else but I prefer the original.

These are cases not of varying from the original but of reverting to the original.

Sometimes no known source has what on text-critical grounds I regard as original.

Title Original Version
*My Version
Reason Notes
A safe stronghold prince of Hell
*prince of ill
Heretical Otherworldalism (probably). The New Testament never associates Satan with Hades or (except as his destination) Gehenna. Doubtless he wants us to think him prince of one or both, but happily he is neither, and in a later stanza Carlyle himself gives him a meeter title. I think the tendency to enthrone Satan arises from an incipient Otherworldalism, but I do not understand it.
A safe stronghold wife
*spouse
Specific So women can sing it with straight faces. ("Goods" is replaced by "house" to maintain the rhyme.)
A safe stronghold The city of God remaineth
*The city God rules standeth
Unmetrical I know not why Carlyle treated "city" as monosyllabic, but having failed to find an equivalent monosyllable I have rearranged the line. ("Town of God"? He's a king, not a mayor. "Land of God"? Sound in its place, but unthematic here. "Cityov God" with consonontal "y"? God is not Russian, and I know not how to indicate that pronunciation to the singer.)
Abide with me Thou on my head in early youth
*(stanza omitted)
Specific .
Abide with me foil the tempter's power
*foil the devil's pow'r
Narrow Certainly only God can foil Satan's power, and if that is all that is intended there is no problem. But I find the original misleading. To tempt is to test for genuineness, and God's friends, having been given a heart of flesh, are genuine. As explained in my "Ontology", I do not share the widespread belief, apparently expressed here by Lyte, that God's friends need constant influxes of grace to restrain them from a persistent tendency to lapse into ungodliness. No New Testament author requests, or celebrates, such an influx. The grace they request and celebrate is not, to remain in Christ, but, to grow in Christ. Where they express a concern lest Satan should lead someone astray, it is someone else, and the fear is that they will prove not to have been realigned, and will persist in their wickedness. To express such concern for oneself is as foolish as to doubt one's standing before the God who welcomes all.
Abide with me Heav'n's morning breaks and Earth's
*Eternal morning breaks.
Heretical Otherworldalism.
All hail the pow'r whom David "lord" did call
*whom David "lord" shall call
Narrow Certainly David of Bethlehem will call Jesus lord, with the rest of us. What is doubtful is whether or not he wrote Psalm 110 and therein referred to the anointed as opposed to an annointed.
All people that on Earth do dwell the lord
*Yahweh
Poor The original English dilutes the sense of God's relativity, so I revert to the (Hebrew) "original's original".
All people that on Earth do dwell To Father, Son
*(stanza omitted)
Poor To me this doxology seems anticlimactic and formulaic, and is of course superfluous in paraphrasing the psalm.
All the way faith
*trust
Poor As explained elsewhere, "faith" is so encrusted with misleading connotations that I prefer "trust".
All the way in my father's house above
*by my father, God above
Heretical The hope of living "above" implies Otherworldalism. It can be rescued if we say that it refers to man's final elevation, but this is not what is usually meant.
All the way spirit
*selfhood
Heretical In contexts like this, "spirit" suggests a detachable entity and Otherworldalism.
All the way wings its flight to
*dwells transform'd in
Heretical "Flight" suggests a journey to an Other world rather than a transformation to a New one.
Angels from the realms Sinners, wrung
*(stanza omitted)
Heretical The "Sinners" stanza is not part of the 1816 original, and reports differ on whether it is by Montgomery. It is certainly unthematic. It switches attention from the unique significance of the celebrated event, which is salvation to Israel and to the nations, to the broader matter of repentance. The Gospel Nativity narratives, so richly echoed in the first four stanzas, never make this switch, and this stanza feels alien to its predecessors. It implies that before the birth of Christ sinners could not repent and become friends of God. I expect the author believed no such thing, but was led into this formulation by the common, naive reading of Paul according to which before the time of Christ all was darkness. (It also affirms at least the possibility of "endless pains", but this could have been mended by substituting "mortal pains".)
Angels from the realms Though an infant
*(stanza omitted)
Poor I agree that the four-stanza version lacks a good finale, but this stanza (not in the original, I think) is not it. It is sound (though Christ "filling" his father's throne is a strange wording), but unimaginative, and switches too abruptly from the Hebraic of the Nativity Narratives to the Hellenistic of the Epistles.
Angels from the realms All creation ...
*(stanza omitted)
Poor This stanza (also not in the original, I think) is formulaic and strained. I am not against Trinitarian doxologies, but when the author is so desperate as to shuffle the order of Persons I tend to draw the line.
As pants the hart I sigh whene'er
(stanza omitted)
Mosaic .
As pants the hart When I advanc'd
(stanza omitted)
Mosaic .
As pants the hart My soul's cast down
(stanza omitted)
Mosaic .
As pants the hart But when thy presence
(stanza omitted)
Mosaic .
As with gladness glorious
*splendid
Unmetrical .
As with gladness costliest
*greatest
Unmetrical .
As with gladness earthly
*mortal
Heretical Otherworldalism. (Incidentally, I take "keep us in the narrow way" to mean "keep us from harm while we walk the narrow way". "Keep us from leaving the narrow way" would be impertinent.)
As with gladness souls
*selves
Heretical Otherworldalism.
As with gladness the heavenly
*th' immortal
Heretical Otherworldalism.
Be thou my vision Naught be all else to me save that thou art
*Naught are all idols but thou truly art
Heretical Otherworldalism.
Be thou my vision May I reach Heav'n's joys
*May I dwell with thee
Heretical Otherworldalism. ("Heav'n's joys" could be taken as "joys felt by Heaven" but is more likely, and was probably intended, to be taken as "joys felt in Heaven".)
Christians awake and the virgin's son
*born as Mary's son
Narrow I explain elsewhere why Christ's lack of a human father is not important.
Christians awake peace ... and unto men good will
*and peace ... to men of his good will
Narrow In Luke, almost certainly the peace is for God's friends. That Christ's coming saved mankind generally is certainly true, but this stanza is a paraphrase so should be accurate.
Christians awake man's first heav'nly state again
*man's last elevated state
Heretical Restitutionalist Atheanthroposialism.
Christians awake this joyful day
*that joyful day
Narrow That Christ was born at Yuletide is a legend arising from the custom of celebrating it on this day. It has about a 1/365 chance of being true.
Come ye thankful wants
*needs
Archaic "Want" used to denote "lack", often connoting what we now call "need". (This is traditionally only sung at harvest-time, but only the first stanza links it to that season, and the remainder is perfectly coherent without it.)
Come ye thankful Come to God's own temple
*Come as God's own temple
Heretical Sacramentalist Magicalism. When paraphrasing an ancient Hebrew Psalm, it is proper to reproduce Yahwism in its Mosaic form, including the temple made with hands along with the fiery pillar and other such paraphernalia. But in the context of this hymn's combination of broad Creationalism with New Testament allusions, such atavism panders to Sacramentalism.
Come ye thankful (lost stanzas)
*(omitted perforce)
Lost The familiar four-stanza abridgement was made by Alford in 1865 and revised in 1867. All sources agree that the 1844 original had three additional stanzas, but give no clues about what they contained.
Ekklesia's one foundation The church
*Ekklesia
Heretical The problems with the word "church" are explained elsewhere.
Ekklesia's one foundation by water and the word
*by spirit and the word
Heretical Mentioning water promotes Magicalism (specifically, Sacramentalism). It is the spirit that gives life, the water is of no avail.
Ekklesia's one foundation against or foe or traitor
*against both foe and traitor
Archaic My edit has the drawback of suggesting the possibility of foe and traitor at the same time, but the change of nuance is so slight that I deem it a price worth paying to stay as close as possible to the original phrase.
Ekklesia's one foundation on Earth hath union
*communes already
Heretical Otherworldalism, implying that the future will be "in Heaven".
Ekklesia's one foundation and mystic sweet communion
*and shares that sweet communion
Heretical Mysticism is of course a form of Otherworldalism, here suggesting the survival of the dead. My edit conveys that we have communion with God just as our predecessors did and will.
Ekklesia's one foundation With all her sons ... Eden land
*(omitted)
Heretical Otherworldalism. These lines continue the theme of disembodied survival (see above), so like others before me I omit them.
Ekklesia's one foundation on high
*ever
Heretical Otherworldalism.
Ekklesia's one foundation There, past ... shall abide
*(omitted)
Poor The previous omission leaves these lines structurally redundant, and they are not especially distinctive, so like others before me I omit them.
For all the saints (1864 vs 1868) Poor I take the 1868 "Sarum" version as original because I happen to have seen a facsimile of it but not of the 1864.
For all the saints For all thy saints
*For all the saints
Poor This change has been universally adopted. I think the author approved it. I know not why it was made, and see no need for it, but also nothing wrong with it, so I accept it.
For all the saints For the apostles
*(stanza omitted)
Narrow I had never seen this stanza until recently. I think I see problems with it, so I follow most other editors in omitting it. It was asterisked in 1868, whatever that means.
For all the saints For the evangelists
*(stanza omitted)
Narrow As per "For the apostles".
For all the saints For martyrs
*(stanza omitted)
Narrow As per "For the apostles".
For all the saints We feebly struggle
*We strive and struggle
Heretical Bonhominalism, inherent in the distinction, implicit in the original, between ordinary Christians and superior "saints". Doubtless the author assumed this, and intended the hymn to reflect it, but the primary theme is continuity, and it works perfectly well without the secondary theme of inferiority.
For all the saints Paradise the blest
*Zion ever blessed.
Heretical Otherworldalism. The original implies a disembodied "intermediate state" of souls, followed only later by the new Jerusalem.
For all the saints But lo ... yet more glorious day
*And so ... new bright glorious day
Heretical Otherworldalism. See previous.
Glorious things of thee are spoken Round each habitation
*(stanza omitted)
Poor In omitting this stanza I concur with many other editors. It is inferior to its predecessors.
Glorious things of thee are spoken Blest inhabitants
*(stanza omitted)
Poor In omitting this stanza I concur with many other editors. It is inferior to its predecessors. Also, the metaphor of washing in blood, never used in the New Testament, strains the "blood" metaphor close to the breaking point, where the Satisfaction Theory would become unavoidable.
Guide me O thou great Jehovah want
*need
Archaic "Want" used to denote "lack", often connoting what we now call "need".
Hark how all the welkin rings Hark the herald angels sing
*Hark how all the welkin rings
(No change) I adhere to Charles Wesley's original. George Whitefield introduced the famous "herald angels" in the 1750's, apparently because he thought "welkin" archaic. (He also changed "king of kings" to "newborn king", presumably just to save the rhyme.) No wonder CW was annoyed! It would be easy enough to change the problematic word without vandalism ("heaven"? "azure"?), and GW's version has two drawbacks. (1) The primary source (Luke) says the angels were speaking, not singing. (2) Once we reinstate the stanzas that GW dropped, it becomes clearer that the first line presages the overall theme, the restoration of all nature. (I also follow CW's original in having no refrain. If you feel the need for a refrain, I suggest the first stanza's last line, more suitable than its first because of the above-mentioned presaging.)
Hark how all the welkin rings virgin's womb
*human womb
Narrow This couplet echoes Galatians 4:4. My version avoids a narrowness foisted by CW on Paul's "born of woman". ("Human" fits the metre better than "woman's" without narrowing.)
Hark how all the welkin rings Veil'd
*Shown
Heretical Docetist Atheanthropsialism. Presumably Wesley intended simply to echo Hebrews 10:20, but his wording could imply that in Christ the godhead is hidden rather than revealed. Compare 1st Timothy 3:16's "manifest in flesh". If the word "show" seems too trite we could sing "Manifest the godhead see", allowing the forthcoming "carnate" to add the mode.
Hark how all the welkin rings th' incarnate
*the carnate
Heretical Otherworldalism. As explained elsewhere, "incarnate" is misleading. And it robs "the" of its only syllable.
Hark how all the welkin rings t'appear, Jesus our Immanuel here
*to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel
Poor It seems strange that CW missed this rhyme, but apparently Whitfield missed it too. I know not who first spotted it.
Hark how all the welkin rings Rise, the woman's conqu'ring seed
*Rise, O Eve's all-conqu'ring seed
Poor The "wo" lacks the impact needed for a stressed syllable. Maybe in those days "woman" was pronounced differently, or maybe with a different tune than Mendelssohn it seems less weak.
Hark how all the welkin rings mystic union
*lasting union
Heretical Otherworldalism.
Hark how all the welkin rings thee, tho' lost, regain
*be through thee made whole
Heretical Restitutionalist Atheanthroposialism. (Also slightly Poor.) ("Reinstate" could also be taken as Restitutionalist, but I think need not be.)
Hark how all the welkin rings the inner man
*of every soul
Poor The original rhyme is only slightly Poor, but when the "question" changes (see previous) the rhyming "answer" must change.
Hark how all the welkin rings each believing heart
*every trusting heart
Heretical "Believe" conduces to Bonhominalism. I explain elsewhere why I prefer "trust".
I cannot tell why he his sun shall shine
*his light will shine
Poor The original is fine in written form, but when sung the homophone acts as a "garden path". "I know he is God's son, does he also have a son? Oh! they mean sun not son, that's all right then, now how many lines have I missed?" (And "will" for "shall" to avoid the merging of words into "lightshall".)
It passeth knowledge tell or sing or know ... while here below
*know or sing or say ... until that day
Heretical  Otherworldalism.
Lead, kindly light loved long since, and lost awhile
*loved long, since, and lost awhile
Archaic I change only the punctuation. The sequence of events is not obvious, but the lyric is so magnificent it seems worth disentangling. I see four periods. (#1: "Past years" of wickedness. #2: The "long" period "since" the end of #1, of "seeing angel faces" and being "blest". #3: The current "night" during which the vision enjoyed during #2 has been lost. #4: The "morn" of renewed vision that it it hoped will follow #3.) Whether these are biographical (of author or of fictional protagonist), or merely conceptual (as in Romans 7), I see no need to consider here. My interpretation depends on surrounding "since" with commas. This is the only way I have been able to make sense of the text, for the obvious "it is long since I loved them" makes no sense. I call the original "archaic" because the problem arises from the modern tendency to take "long since" together, almost as a single word.
Let us with a gladsome mind (1624) (various changes) I have tinkered, mainly to make it scan.
Lo! he comes with clouds (1760) (No change) I cannot establish the 1760 text on external grounds, so these notes include my opinions about what is original along with the usual defences of my variations. I use "difficult" in the sense usual among practitioners of text-criticism.
Lo! he comes with clouds Halleluiah! Amen
*God appears on Earth to reign
Unmetrical More modest ways to fill the missing syllable could doubtless be found, but I see nothing wrong with the popular version so I follow it.
Lo! he comes with clouds the true messiah
*their true messiah
(No change) Most sources have "the", but "their" is probably original, as it makes more sense, is more difficult, and older editions seem to have it.
Lo! he comes with clouds by man rejected
*by men rejected
(No change) Most sources have "man", but "men" is probably original, as it makes more sense, is more difficult, and older editions seem to have it.
Lo! he comes with clouds Those dear tokens
*(stanza omitted)
Heretical Lapsofatalism. Resurrection is more than healing. Christ's wounds have not survived his glorification, and a beheaded man will not walk hereafter "with his head tucked underneath his arm". In John 20, Christ had "not yet ascended". (Luke 24 makes sense without assuming wounds, and anyway is pre-ascension. In Rev 5:6 the "lamb standing as if slain" also has seven horns and seven eyes, but I don't recall any hymns that mention that. It is an evocative word-combination, not to be visualised, or we will be asking whether a lamb could have its forearms spread out on a crux without dislocating its shoulders.)
Mine eyes have seen the glory Let us die to make men free
*Let us live to make men free
Specific While each of us should indeed practice "the love that makes, undaunted, the final sacrifice", the point is less salient outside its original wartime setting. Most modern hymnals seem to agree.
O little town of Bethlehem The blessings of his heav’n
*his blessings sent from heav'n
Heretical Otherworldalism.
O little town of Bethlehem Where children pure and happy
*(stanza omitted)
Poor Originally this stanza called Mary "undefiled", but apparently Brooks, after receiving advice, substituted "mild", then omitted the stanza altogether. Once the Marialatry is removed I see nothing heretical about it, but it has some words I do not understand so I am content to leave it in hymnody's recycler.
O for a thousand tongues (the original had 18 stanzas)
*(stanzas omitted)
Specific My selection is similar to that of most modern hymnals. Some of the omitted stanzas also have other defects, including the (narrow) Satisfaction theory and the (heretical) Arminianism, but I see little to be gained by detailed explanations. Having selected, it is then natural to move the original Stanza 2 to the end, which would otherwise be rather lame.
O love that wilt not let me go feel
*know
Specific Feeling varies but knowledge abides. "Sometimes I feel discouraged and think my work's in vain. But then the holy spirit revives my soul again". Meanwhile, I want to be able to sing this hymn.
Onward Christian soldiers cross
*flag
Narrow Paul of Tarsus sought to focus the attention of Corinthians and others on Christ's death, using the gallows as a metonym thereof, as a corrective to their pride. Others, taking this out of context, have elevated that gallows into a supreme symbol. Often this implies the Otherworldalism heresy, but sometimes only the Satisfaction theory.
Onward Christian soldiers Hell
*death
Archaic HadEs in Matthew 16:18 is the realm of (all) the dead while Gehenna in Matthew 23:15 is the place of chastisement of God's foes. The King James Bible translated both as "Hell". Today only the latter sense is current, so where the former applies, as here, "Hell" is misleading.
Onward Christian soldiers church
*folk
Heretical The problems with the word "church" are explained elsewhere.
Onward Christian soldiers are treading where the saints have trod
*now tread where saints of old have trod
Heretical Bonhominalism. The original suggests that not every Christian is a saint.
Onward Christian soldiers What the saints established
*(stanza omitted)
Heretical In omitting this stanza I concur with most modern hymnals. The hereticality could probably be mended, but the stanza is not especially good so it seems not worthwhile.
Praise him, praise him Jesus will guard his children
*Jesus will guard his people
Narrow The New Testament never calls Christ our father. Hebrews 2:13 and Luke 13:34 only do so within a particular imagery and cannot properly be generalised. To do so conduces to Modalism, an error though perhaps a harmless one.
Praise him, praise him He is triumphant
*Ever triumphant
Poor Here I concur with most editors.
Praise to the lord, the almighty (additional stanzas) (No change) Neander's German is paraphrased by Stanzas 1, 2, 3 and 8 (by Catherine Winkworth, first appearing in The Chorale Book in 1863 they say, though the copy I have seen says 1865) and Stanza 4 (by an unknown hand). Stanzas 5, 6 and 7 seem to have first appeared in the 1906 English Hymnal, and are probably by Percy Dearmer. I like them all.
Praise to the lord, the almighty to his temple draw near
*as his temple draw near
Poor Psalm 150 praises God "in his sanctuary", reflecting the limitations of ancient Yahwism, but the hymn's spine is provided by Psalm 103 which has a bigger, more nearly Christian vision, where mentioning a physical temple jars. I therefore think it better here to reflect the New Testament doctrine that God's friends are his temple.
Praise to the lord, the almighty thy desires have been granted
*all thy needs e'er have been granted
Narrow Psalm 103 (RSV) says "satisfies you with good". I have not studied the German, but whatever that says (and notwithstanding a few verses of the New Testament about "whatever you ask") I prefer to exclude the idea that God's friends get everything they wish for.
The day thou gavest Church
*folk
Heretical The problems with the word "church" are explained elsewhere.
The god of Abram praise (12 stanzas vs 13) (No change) Its words were suggested by the Hebrew Yigdal, hence the common supposition that it had 13 stanzas. But it was not based on the Yigdal.
The god of Abram praise He calls a worm his friend
*He calls a foe his friend
Archaic I assume that the author meant "worm" in the old sense of snake, a reference to man's wickedness not his createdness, and I have preserved that sense. (If he was alluding to createdness, other questions arise. I see nothing remarkable in at God's befriending a mere creature; that is natural, it is what he created us for, and to deny that may suggest a heretical tendency.)
The god of Abram praise I shall ... to Heav'n ascend
*I shall ... skyward ascend
Archaic I hope for general support as in Isaiah 40:31 and to meet the lord in the air as in 1st Thessalonians 4:17. The author may not have intended Otherworldalism, but his choice of word now conveys it.
The god of Abram praise Earth and Hell withstand
*evil hordes withstand
Heretical Otherworldalism (probably). "The world" is evil but the "Earth" is not. Nor is "Hell", whether the author meant HadEs or Gehenna, for neither serves Satan. See on "A safe stronghold".
The god of Abram praise He shows his prints of love
*They feel afresh his love
Heretical Lapsofatalism. See on "Lo he comes" re "Those dear tokens".
The lord's my shepherd (questions of accuracy) (No change) It first appeared in the collaborative "Psalms of David in Metre" approved by the General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland.  I accept it as a hymn, without prejudice to the controversy about whether it accurately renders the psalm. If I were treating it as a translation I would correct "the lord" to "Yahweh".
The sands of time are sinking (several original stanzas)
*(stanzas omitted)
Specific The author called the original 19-stanza poem "Last words of Reverend Samuel Rutherford". My selection is similar to that of most modern hymnals. Some of the omitted stanzas are also heretical, but amid such wholesale cuts explanations seem superfluous. I select stanzas 1, 4, 5, 13, 18, 14 and 11 in that order. The cuts disrupt the sequence of thought, so I have rearranged the selection to restore coherence.
The sands of time are sinking The dawn of Heaven
*The dawn eternal
Heretical Otherworldalism.
The sands of time are sinking on Earth I've tasted; more deep I'll drink above
*I here have tasted;  the fount will there increase
Heretical Otherworldalism. To restore the rhyme I have needed to change "love" to "peace", a slightly different thought but, I hope, a near enough equally true, relevant and worthy one.
The sands of time are sinking Heaven
*Zion
Heretical Otherworldalism.
The sands of time are sinking life's lingering sand
*this lingering sand
Poor Maybe this tongue-twister is why most editors omit this stanza, which otherwise is so evocative.
The whole world lies in evil (many original lines)
*(lines omitted)
Poor My selection, while longer than most, is only a quarter of Neale's translation of an extract from Bernard's 3000 lines. I have arranged my selection to give a coherent sequence of thought. Neale added lines in 1858 and I know not which of my chosen lines is from 1851 and which (if any) from 1858.
The whole world lies in evil The world is very evil
*The whole world lies in evil
Narrow Evil itself has no degrees, but its effects are more manifest in some cases than in others. Assessments may differ as to whether those manifestations are greater or less now than at some other time, or in some other possible world, but what 1st John 5:19 (I am using the King James Bible here) says will be true until the last day.
The whole world lies in evil below
*till then
Heretical Otherworldalism. To restore the rhyme I then change "no human heart can know" to "beyond all human ken".
The whole world lies in evil ev'ry sin
*ev'ry stain
Narrow Christians are free from sin (Romans 6). The "sin in which I totter" is the residue of former sin, hindering growth. To call the healing of that residue a "purging of sin" suggests that the sin remains active until then.
The whole world lies in evil Shall I e'er win the prize itself?
*Shall I e'er win the prize, then?
Unmetrical .
The whole world lies in evil Strive, man
*Strive, soul
Specific To clarify that women are included.
Through all the changing scenes man
*soul
Specific To clarify that women are included.
Thy hand O God hath guided has guided
*hath guided
(No change) Most sources say "has", but I guess the author wrote "hath", as the rest of the hymn is old-style, including this first line's "thy". This hymn was first published in the Supplement to Hymns Ancient and Modern 2nd edition, whose editor, Charles Steggall, was a musician; not a poet. The error probably occurred then, and Plumptre had little chance to get it corrected as he died two years later.
Thy hand O God hath guided Our fathers
*The elders
Narrow The original wording assumes that the singers' ancestors were mainly Christians, an assumption unnecessary to the hymn's main point. "The elders" primarily denotes the Christians of the New Testament period; I struggle to think of any "chosen sons of light" in subsequent history, but maybe we should assume they were there below the surface in all ages.
Thy hand O God hath guided Church
*folk
Heretical The problems with the word "church" are explained elsewhere.
Thy hand O God hath guided teaching
*doctrine
(No change) All sources say "teaching" but I seem to recall having seen "doctrine" in my youth. "Teaching" is Poor anyway.
Thy hand O God hath guided the nation
*Ekklesia
Heretical Statist Authoritarianism. Ekklesia is a "nation" in one sense of course, but the original suggests a nation-state instead. Fine in the context of ancient Israel, but here the context is Christian history.
Twas about two thousand years ago It was just two thousand years
*Twas about two thousand years
Poor When this hymn was written Christ's public work was nearer nineteen hundred years ago than two thousand, hardly "just". But a broken clock is right twice a day, and as I write this note (in 2017) the original will be right in about a decade. Better be less specific. What matters is not how long ago it was but that Christ (unlike "the Buddha" for instance) walked the Earth at a known point "in space and time and history" (as Francis Schaeffer called it), but I see no way to express that without wrecking the hymn so have settled for loosening the specificity.
Twas about two thousand years ago guilt ... penalty
*results ... harm
Narrow The original assumes the Satisfaction Theory.
Twas about two thousand years ago powers of Hell
*hostile pow'rs
Heretical Otherworldalism (probably). See on "A safe stronghold".
Who is he in yonder stall (repetitions of the refrain)
*(omitted)
Poor Originally the refrain was repeated after each couplet, but this seems excessive, except perhaps in certain moods. So I omit some repeats.

Back to Hymnal.