Hymn 667 of the Trinity Hymnal, "To God Be the Glory", reads "And opened the life-gate that we may go in." I grew up singing "that all may go in." How was the hymn originally written? Thank you.
Fanny Crosby's original hymn, published in 1875, reads: "And opened the life gate that all may go in."
It was apparently the editors of the original Trinity Hymnal (1961) who changed the words to "And opened the life-gate that we may go in." (It is possible, however, that they were using the wording of an earlier hymnal.)
Furthermore, though you do not mention it, the line in verse 2, "The vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives" was altered to "forgiveness receives."
These changes were clearly marked: "St. 1, line 4; st. 2, line 4, alt." (though the marking does not specifically state "alt. 1961," which would attribute the change specifically to the Trinity Hymnal). The revised Trinity Hymnal (1990, hymn 55) retained the changes. Orthodox Presbyterians singing from these hymnals use the altered words which are jarring to those who are used to Fanny Crosby's original.
Why did the editors make these changes? They clearly move in a Calvinistic direction.
With regard to the first change, they apparently wanted to safeguard the doctrine of limited atonement: the doctrine that, while Christ's death on the cross for sinners was sufficient for all fallen sons of Adam (all the human race with the exception only of himself, the perfect one), it was intended only for the elect (those whom the Father had given to the Son before the foundation of the world, John 17:2, Rev. 17:8).
The second change is a bit perplexing because "pardon" and "forgive" are linguistically related ("pardon" is from the Latin per- [for] + dōnāre, to give).
It is this writer's opinion that the changes were unnecessary. The term "all" can be sung with the sense "all for whom he died"that is, the elect ("all" as opposed to the one who died, 2 Cor. 5:14). The vilest sinner who truly believes in Jesus Christ does indeed receive pardon, forgiveness of sins and remission, as well as the imputed righteousness of Christ which alone qualifies him for heaven.
At the time of the publication of the original Trinity Hymnal, OPC minister, theologian and musician E. J. Young wrote several articles about the project in The Presbyterian Guardian, explaining the committee's rationale behind the choice and wording of the hymns included. The articles are available at the links below. Scroll through the pdf file to find the page.
Vol. 30, March 1961, p. 55 Our New Hymnal
Vol. 32, March 1963, p. 38 Knowing Our Hymnal
"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.
The questions come from individuals like yourself. If you have questions about biblical and theological matters, you are invited to send them by e-mail by using the "Pose a Question" link on the OPC home page or by clicking here.
At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those people who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)
The purpose of the OPC website's "Questions and Answers" is to respond to biblical and theological questions. Matters of church discipline, disputes, or debates go beyond the scope of our work. We recommend that you present your concerns in these areas to the appropriate judicatory. In most cases this will be to a local pastor, elder, or session. We do not want the website to replace personal involvement in, or commitment to, the local, visible church.
While we will respond to every serious questioner, we are not bound to give a substantive answer to every question, should we deem the question to be beyond the scope of our purpose or our own ability to answer.
You will receive an answer by e-mail. Please be patient as many of our respondents are busy pastors. The response to your question may take up to two (2) weeks. Some of the questions submitted will be chosen to be posted here, along with the corresponding answers.
Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been editedall personal references are removed, Scripture references or from some source may be added, and sometimes portions are expandedto make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.