Quietly sitting behind glass on a bookshelf in my office is a little first edition hymn-book entitled The Christian Lyre. Compiled by Joshua Leavitt and published in New York in 1830, The Christian Lyre was the forerunner of the modern American hymnal. Prior to Leavitt's work, "hymnbooks" in America contained only lyrics (often compilations by a single author, like Isaac Watts). The music was supplied by arrangers and tunes already familiar to the congregation singing them.

For example, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross by Isaac Watts is printed twice in many modern hymnals - once under the tune HAMBURG and again with the tune O WALY WALY. Your distant relatives may have likely sung a handful of hymns to a completely different tune than the one you now recognize (and adore). Thanks to men like Joshua Leavitt and John Wesley (who began indicating in his hymn-texts which tunes "should" be sung with them), its highly likely that you can today join in singing a familiar hymn text with a fellow believer in another part of the country, without arguing over which tune to use.

What the church throughout history has discovered is that sometimes a text and a tune marry perfectly with one another - and the two maintain a relevance in whatever setting they land (think Silent Night). However, this is rarely the case, and in the course of time the church is left with hymns that may suffer any number of ailments, like foreign musical meters, archaic language, or outdated music. In the worst-case scenario, the music becomes preeminent and the church overlooks bad theology sitting on the surface of the hymn texts themselves.

When the church encounters these problems, the church bears the responsibility to either remove a song or reform a song, in tune or in text. Compile your list of church leaders and reformers in church history and you are likely to find that no two shared exactly the same opinion on the relationship of texts and tunes in hymns. Some sought to fix one or the other, or remove one or the other, or completely re-invent one or the other!

The last few decades have seen a resurgence of interest in historic hymns, especially among younger generations. The ministries of BiFrost Arts, Indelible Grace, Red Mountain Music and Sojourn Music are just a handful of examples. Hungry for the aforementioned orthodoxy and rich lyrics, they've taken the rules from the ole' playbook and begun "re-tuning" many of the old hymn texts that have either been forgotten along the way or that were never set to music in the first place. Other men and women have been blessed with the ability to write truthful and captivating new hymn texts, and simply lack the right tune to complete the work.

One such wise joining of the fresh with the familiar is All Glory Be to Christ, written by Dustin Kensrue and set to a familiar, secular melody - the perennial Auld Lang Syne - which, by the way, was a poem compiled from various texts in 1788 and then set to a popular folk song. In years to come, perhaps this familiar melody will also survive under a new title. I could think of nothing more valuable for my children's children to recall to mind when humming the old familiar, New Year's tune... "All glory be to Christ!"

Should nothing of our efforts stand
No legacy survive
Unless the Lord does raise the house
In vain its builders strive
To you who boast tomorrow’s gain
Tell me what is your life?
A mist that vanishes at dawn
All glory be to Christ!

All glory be to Christ our king!
All glory be to Christ!
His rule and reign we'll ever sing,
All glory be to Christ!

His will be done, His kingdom come
On earth as is above
Who is Himself our daily bread
Praise Him the Lord of love
Let living water satisfy
The thirsty without price
We’ll take a cup of kindness
Yet, all glory be to Christ!

All glory be to Christ our king!
All glory be to Christ!
His rule and reign we'll ever sing,
All glory be to Christ!

When on the day the great I Am
The faithful and the true
The Lamb who was for sinners slain
Is making all things new
Behold our God shall live with us
And be our steadfast light
And we shall ere His people be
All glory be to Christ!

All glory be to Christ our king!
All glory be to Christ!
His rule and reign we'll ever sing,
All glory be to Christ!

Words by Dustin Kensrue, arrangement by Kings Kaleidoscope ©2012 We Are Younger We Are Faster Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.)